Gun-related stocks bucked a global equities sell-off on Monday, rising sharply on the day U.S. President Barack Obama was expected to give a speech on actions he would take to reduce gun-related violence. It was the second one-day rally linked to the national gun debate since Dec. 7, when the president gave a rare Oval Office address about the government’s response to a recent slew of mass shootings.
Shares in Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. (NASDAQ:SWHC) closed up nearly 6 percent on Monday while Sturm, Ruger & Company (NYSE:RGR) stock gained more than 3 percent. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 ended the day down nearly 4 percent as jitters over a slowdown in China and a global commodities glut sparked a massive sell-off from Hong Kong to New York.
Gun stocks tend to rally on investor speculation that more-restrictive gun control measures would boost gun sales, and company profits.
“Speculation surrounding increased gun control at the federal, state and local level and heightened fears of terrorism and crime can affect consumer demand for our products,” Smith & Wesson said in its 2105 annual report. “Often, such concerns result in an increase in near-term consumer demand and subsequent softening of demand when such concerns subside.”
Obama met with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday to explore his options on implementing greater oversight of gun purchases. One option would be to close the so-called gun show loophole, in which smaller unlicensed gun sellers – typically individuals who don’t own storefronts – would be required to conduct background checks on aspiring gun buyers. Current law exempts these smaller dealers, including online vendors, from conducting the checks.
A Quinnipiac University poll in November found that by a 93 to 5 margin Americans support background checks for all gun purchases. But in the same poll 41 percent also said they believed the country would be safer if more people carried guns.
“We will consider options once we have information, but what seems apparent is none of these ideas would have prevented the recent atrocities,” Doug Andres, a spokesman for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., said in an email to the Washington Post. “Our focus should be on the consistent causes of these acts — mental illnesses and terrorism — rather than infringing on law-abiding Americans’ constitutional rights.”