Gary Wintemute doesn’t look like a slayer of gunslingers, writes the Sacramento Bee in a profile of one of the nation’s leading researchers on the gun industry. He’s a bespectacled professor of 65, and speaks in the measured tones of the scientist he is. But for the gun industry, he may be the most dangerous scientist in America, more so starting on July 1. That’s when the University of California will release the first of $5 million to fund the UC Davis Firearms Violence Research Center, located in an unmarked building on Stockton Avenue, across from the UC Davis Medical Center.
A new study in PLOS ONE investigates how mass shootings influence the stock price of firearms manufacturers. While it is well known that mass shootings lead to increased firearms sales, the response from financial markets is unclear. On one hand, given the observed short-term increase in demand, firearm stock prices may rise due to the unexpected financial windfall for the firm. On the other, mass shootings may result in calls for regulation of the industry, leading to divestment of firearms stocks in spite of short-term demand. The study examines this tension using a market movement event study in the wake of 93 mass shootings in the U.S. between 2009 and 2013. Findings show that stock prices of firearm manufacturers decline after shootings; each event reducing prices between 22.4 and 49.5 basis points, per day. These losses are exacerbated by the presence of a handgun and the number of victims killed, but not affected by the presence of children or location of the event. Finally, the study finds that these effects are most prevalent in the period 2009–2010 but disappear in later events, indicating that markets appear to have accepted mass shootings as the “new normal.”
Just because gun sales aren’t booming at the same rate they were during the biggest year ever for firearms manufacturers, that doesn’t mean they’re not still rising, writes Fox Business News. Yet the way the market responded to the FBI release of April gun buyer background-check data, you’d think we were in the midst of a major downturn. The fact is, gun sales are surging; 2016 was the biggest year for gun sales. The FBI processed more than 27.5 million background checks last year, 19% more than it had the year before and more than double the number it did a decade ago. Gun sales were mostly driven by political considerations, as many gun owners and enthusiasts anticipated a different outcome in the presidential elections last November. When Donald Trump came out on top, the threat of new gun control legislation was largely removed from the table, and the need to buy a gun right away before new laws were enacted waned. But it didn’t eliminate the demand for new guns; it just deferred them. Gun control doesn’t really affect demand, only the timing of the purchase, typically pulling forward sales that would occur anyway. And that’s what we’re seeing with the FBI’s numbers so far in 2017.
The Illinois Senate passed a gun dealer licensing bill, known as Senate Bill 1657, in a 30-21 vote, according to Democratic Senator Don Harmon’s press office, reports WABC 7 Eyewitness News in Chicago. “This was a difficult and a controversial bill, I know,” Harmon said in a press release. “I appreciate the support of every senator who was able to put children and families ahead of the NRA.” According to the release, the bill would allow Illinois to license gun dealers and encourage better business practices while holding corrupt dealers accountable.
Brazil has a murder problem. It also has a gun problem. Both could get worse if some Brazilian lawmakers have their way, reports Public Radio International. Most of the roughly 60,000 Brazilian citizens violently killed each year die from gunshot wounds. And the majority of the guns doing the killing were made in Brazil. The country is the fourth-largest firearms and ammunition manufacturer on the planet. Now a small group of Brazilian lawmakers is on the verge of worsening the country’s homicide epidemic. Rather than tighten responsible firearms legislation, the so-called Bullet Caucus wants to make weapons even more accessible and untraceable. Their proposed legislation, Bill 3.722, would permit anyone over 21 to own up to six weapons with access to 100 rounds per firearm each year.
The second-highest-ranking official at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has written a proposal to reduce gun regulations, including examining a possible end to the ban on importing assault weapons into the United States, reports The Washington Post. The 11-page “white paper” by Ronald B. Turk, associate deputy director and chief operating officer of the ATF, calls for removing restrictions on the sale of gun silencers; allowing gun dealers to have more guns used in crimes traced to their stores before the federal government requires additional information from the dealer; and initiating a study on lifting the ban on imported assault weapons.
Just as the sugary beverage industry supports initiatives to increase physical activity, the gun industry has found a new cause: suicide prevention. The Associated Press reports that a new initiative by the National Sports Shooting Foundation, the trade association of gun manufacturers, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, seeks to use gun stores and shooting ranges to reach people at risk of suicide. “As with most relationships, we had to get to know one another a bit. We had to see that they were serious, and I’m sure that they had to see that we were not going to be gun control activists,” said Robert Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “We’re interested in not taking guns away, but in limiting access by those who have serious mental health problems and are at risk.” It’s all about practicing safe storage, he said.