There has been a major upset in the gun-manufacturing world; Remington Arms Company, a giant in the industry, has declared bankruptcy. On the surface, that makes very little sense considering the fact that pro-gun legislators control the government for the first time in many years. However, Remington’s bankruptcy is the perfect case for an emerging truth: the fact that the country has a pro-gun president spells bad news for the gun manufacturing industry, because people will not buy more guns if they do not fear that they will be taken away. In fact, due to this, the industry has unofficially dubbed 2017 the “Trump slump.”
The “Trump slump” is a difficult paradox on both sides of the aisle. For conservatives who support pro-gun legislation, being in power means that gun companies themselves begin to go out of business. For the liberals who support more gun control, even attempting to get their candidates into office raises gun sales astronomically. Thus, there is no easy path for either to achieve their goals.
Paradoxes are not uncommon in the gun debate. The most influential pro-gun advocates, the National Rifle Association, capitalizes on its own circular construction: the NRA posits that if others have guns, then you’re not safe so you must buy a gun too. The “logic” perpetuates itself. In the case of Remington and the “Trump Slump,” it will be interesting to see the NRA’s reaction. The NRA’s money contributes greatly to putting pro-gun candidates into office; for example, the NRA gave the Trump campaign over $11 million in 2016. The NRA is adept at using its money to have policy written to support its interests. However, if gun manufacturers become bankrupt because pro-gun candidates are in office, the NRA’s success will quickly dictate its failure; you can have the right to buy a gun but that will be difficult without the companies that make them. This isn’t even accounting for the fact that gun manufacturers will become less popular after their guns are used in mass shootings—as was the case with Remington—which will most likely keep occurring if we have pro-gun politicians in office who don’t promote gun control.
Thus, gun manufacturers have a difficult road ahead of them; their success will come at the cost of pro-gun politicians’ failure. Moreover, the more mass shootings occur, the more their brands are damaged—and, of course, more innocent people lose their lives to a person holding their weapons. Only one thing is for certain: Remington Arms Company, after over two hundred years of operation, has met its match in this quagmire of American gun policy. Many more gun manufacturers are likely to face Remington’s fate.
These loss of these companies will change the gun landscape in America, as Americans have had their guns before they even had electricity. In the case of Remington Arms Company, it was founded in 1816 when Eliphalet Remington hand-built the company's first rifle. The company is certainly proud of its nineteenth century roots, during which a Remington rifle was useful for scaring off both an explorative grizzly and an invading British soldier. In fact, its 21st century slogan is “This is Remington Country,” which brings to mind Eliphalet and all his descendents—just some good, old, plaid-clad country boys defending the land from anyone who dares to step on it. This advertising is evidently geared towards the conservative side of our country, as it is steeped in nostalgia, tradition and the musky sense that in some places in this country, a man can still be a man without his government interfering. In other words, it’s ideal gun advertising. After over two centuries, however, the gun manufacturer has met its end in the modern world.
In 2012, when twenty-six people died at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a Remington Bushmaster rifle was used in the attack. In the aftermath, Remington was abandoned by private equity fund investors from Cerberus Capital Management, which is the buyout firm that controls Remington. In the six years following attack, the situation has only become more dire for Remington. When Trump took the White House in 2016, gun sales began to plummet as people no longer feared legislation that would make gun more difficult to purchase. Moreover, any potential sources of financial salvation are nervous to attach themselves to the company due to their indirect role in the tragedy at Newtown. Thus, Remington plans to file for bankruptcy and is dealing with a $950 million debt pile. This titan of the gun industry may finally have met its end.
Remington represents the past: an America that hunted for sport and didn’t have easy access to law enforcement for protection. That’s the country that Remington and other gun manufacturers could thrive in; moreover, it can be scary and destabilizing to let go of the past. However, in modern America, where mentally unstable individuals armed with assault rifles commit major mass shootings at least once every two months, the question increasingly becomes how we could justify legislating to protect habits from days gone by rather than protecting schoolchildren from a senseless massacre.
The image featured in this article is used under the Creative Commons license. The original can be found here.
Lucy Ritzmann is a first year prospective Political Science major interested in political media and law. Last summer, she interned at the Manhattan Borough President's Office. For winter quarter, she is a Fellow's Ambassador at the IOP. In her free time, she enjoys being with her friends and zumba.