guns and america
February 13, 2018

Remington Outdoor Co. is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the company announced Monday, offering a restructuring plan that will allow the gunmaker to shed $700 million worth of debt. The company traces its roots back to 1816, when Eliphalet Remington II created his first flintlock rifle, and it sold its first rifles to the U.S. military in 1845. But a year under President Trump was apparently too much. Gun sales have slumped with Trump in the White House, not because Trump opposes gun rights, but because he champions them.

Remington's fortunes took a hit when "Hillary Clinton's defeat erased fears among gun enthusiasts about losing access to weapons," Bloomberg reports, and while sales plummeted and retailers stopped restocking firearms, gunmakers kept on churning out guns. More than 11 million firearms were manufactured in the U.S. in 2016, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, up from fewer than 4 million guns made 10 years ago, Bloomberg notes. Fewer households own firearms now, though the people who do own guns tend to own a lot of them — an estimated 3 percent of American adults own half of all U.S. civilian firearms.

Remington is currently owned by Cerberus Capital Management, the private equity firm of Trump supporter Stephen Feinberg, but it won't be after the Chapter 11 process. Feinberg tried unsuccessfully to sell Cerberus after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, where a Remington Bushmaster rifle was used in the massacre of children. Remington said its operations "will not be disrupted by the restructuring process."

Rival gunmaker Colt went through bankruptcy reorganization in 2015, and this is "not the first time Remington has been in financial trouble; it probably won't be the last," Richard Feldman, president of the Independent Firearm Owners Association, told Bloomberg. Still, he saw hope on the horizon: "I suspect that if the Democrats make a resurgence this November, gun company stocks will come roaring back with them." Peter Weber

October 3, 2017

Mass shootings like this week's attack in Las Vegas are core to how Americans debate gun policy — but not necessarily with good reason. As Maggie Koerth-Baker details in a Tuesday analysis at FiveThirtyEight, mass shootings are very different from most firearm deaths in the United States in several key ways.

Koerth-Baker uses the FBI's definition of a mass shooting as "a single incident in which four or more people are killed." By that measure, there were 90 mass shootings in America between 1966 and 2012, crimes that are uniquely American and also just plain unique. First, Koerth-Baker notes, most people killed by guns in America don't die in a mass shooting. In fact, 2 in 3 aren't homicide victims at all, but rather people who commit suicide.

Second, the demographics of mass shootings are different: Shooters tend to be young or middle-aged white men, and their victims are equally split along gender lines. Despite what very high-profile attacks like Las Vegas suggest, more than half of mass shooters are engaging in domestic violence. In other murders, victims are disproportionately male, young, and black.

And third, while mass shootings have become more frequent and deadlier in recent years, violent crime more broadly is historically low. "[H]omicide rates have fallen significantly from their 1980 peak and continued on a generally downward trajectory for most of the 21st century," Koerth-Baker writes. Suicides, however, have increased dramatically. If these divergent trends continue, she concludes, using mass shootings as our primary lens for gun policy conversations will lead to legislation ill-suited to address the vast majority of gun violence. Bonnie Kristian

May 15, 2017

Gun sales have plunged since President Trump was elected, with the FBI recording 1.6 million fewer firearm background checks between December and April compared to the same period a year ago, the New York Post reports. The drop is thought to be connected to Trump's surprise election, as gun purchasers bumped up sales in the months ahead of the election in the belief that a President Hillary Clinton would implement stricter gun control laws.

But since Trump won the election, the FBI has recorded its second-biggest drop in sales since it began collecting statistics in 1998. While the government doesn't track firearm sales specifically, firearm background checks are a common way to measure the enthusiasm around purchasing a gun.

Gun stocks have likewise plummeted, with Vista Outdoor seeing shares fall 43 percent since Nov. 8. American Outdoor, which makes Smith & Wesson guns, is down 18 percent. Jeva Lange

June 21, 2016

Three people were arrested on the New Jersey side of New York's Holland Tunnel on Tuesday morning after they were pulled over for a cracked windshield and discovered to be in possession of loaded guns, knives, 2,000 rounds of ammunition, and body armor. However, authorities ruled out terrorism as a possible motive; an official told The Daily Beast that the trio was "on their way to rescue a female friend who they believed was being held hostage in Queens after doing heroin."

The female friend had allegedly overdosed in Brooklyn and called her friends to save her after she woke up next to a dead woman. Apparently corroborating the story, one box of ammo said "shoot your local heroin dealer."

The two men in their 50s and a woman in her 20s had driven to New York from Pennsylvania in a bright green modified Dodge that was apparently named after a gun range, "Higher Ground Tactical." Officers who spoke to NBC called the trio "gun enthusiasts." DNAInfo reported that one of the guns had "Merica" written on it.

The owner of Higher Ground Tactical, John Cramsey, reportedly posted pictures of himself on Facebook with a similar truck, although it is unclear if the truck is owned by the gun range or not. Cramsey's daughter died of a heroin overdose in February, also according to Facebook. The gun range declined to comment to the press. Jeva Lange

June 20, 2016

Florida congressional candidate and state Sen. Greg Evers (R) announced that he's giving one lucky firearms fan an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle for Independence Day as part of his "Homeland Defender Giveaway."

The controversial giveaway comes in response to the Orlando nightclub shooting that killed 49 just one week ago. "With all that's happening in the world today, I've never felt stronger about the importance of the second amendment in protecting our homeland than I do now," Evers said in a written statement. The rifle "proudly displays the 2nd amendment on the right side of the receiver," the press release says.

Evers, who has enjoyed an A-plus rating from the NRA for the last 14 years, is running for Florida's 1st Congressional District seat. Becca Stanek

June 15, 2016

It is easier to buy a gun in some parts of the United States than it is to buy a beer — in fact, President Obama once suggested it's even easier than buying a vegetable. But one reporter for Seven Days in Vermont put that to the test when he purchased an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle just 39 hours after a similar weapon was used to massacre 49 people in Orlando.

Vermont is "home to the nation's most permissive gun laws," reporter Paul Heintz explained, saying all he had to do was Google "AR-15 Vermont," get in touch with a seller, and a few emails later they had arranged to exchange the weapon in a parking lot — no ID, background check, license, or wait required:

A little after 5 p.m., a young man wearing a blue flannel shirt, Carhartts, and Timberlands approached me outside the Five Guys, which is sandwiched between a Chipotle and a GNC in a busy shopping center next to Interstate 189. The seller was tall and rail-thin, with short blond hair and stubbly facial hair.

"Hey, how are you?" he asked.

"Good. How are you?" I said as I shook his hand. "Nice to meet you."

The man pointed to his car across the parking lot and suggested I move mine to the space next to it. He opened his rear passenger-side door, apologized for the car's messy state and unzipped an olive green carrying case. The weapon was a generic AR-15, with a Radical Firearms mid-length barrel, an Aero Precision lower receiver and a Walther PS 22 red-dot sight. It came with three empty 30-round magazines. [Seven Days]

After paying the seller $500, Heintz walked away with the weapon, which he took to the police. Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo confirmed the exchange was completely legal in Vermont — you can watch him talk about the simplicity of obtaining such a gun below, and read Heintz's entire account over at Seven Days. Jeva Lange

December 24, 2015

Athletes are known for their stoic, stock answers to reporters' questions during press conferences. But four of the NBA's biggest stars — Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, and Chicago Bulls forward Joakim Noah — have spoken out against gun violence in a new video, produced in partnership with Everytown for Gun Safety and directed by Spike Lee. The players' comments are intertwined with stories from actual gun violence survivors:

Curry mentions his daughter Riley in the spot, who charmed fans last year during Golden State's championship run. "The guys really wanted to put their voices behind this," Kathy Behrens, the NBA's president of social responsibility and player programs, told the Chicago Tribune.

Back in March, Noah joined up with Bulls teammates Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson to produce a mini-documentary on the effects of gun violence, which is particularly prevalent in Chicago. Carmelo Anthony, who is from Baltimore, marched with protesters in the city in April after the death of Freddie Gray. Kimberly Alters

December 8, 2015

Home shoppers can buy anything from jewelry to electronics to knives on 24-hour shopping channels such as QVC — and soon, guns will have their own shopping channel, too. GunTV is set to air six hours a day beginning in January 2016 and rise to 24 hours a day by 2017; the channel will hawk "a vast array of firearms," including products like bullets, two-way radios, and women's concealed weapons apparel, The New York Times reports.

"This is something that's definitely going to enrage a lot of people," said Ladd Everitt, a spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

GunTV will be filmed in a Palm Springs studio about 50 miles from where 14 people were killed when two shooters opened fire on a crowd in San Bernardino with military-style weapons. While Everitt accused GunTV of "trying to profit off of the out-of-control culture of gun violence," the channel's parent company, the Social Responsibility Network, plans to promote gun safety with an eight-minute public service segment once an hour.

Additionally, guns purchased on GunTV can't be sent straight to your home; they have to be picked up at a local retailer in person, and a federal background check is performed. Even so, the concept and tagline — "Live Shopping. Fully Loaded" — is rather reminiscent of a recent satirical New Yorker cover that depicts customers casually picking out weapons while shopping for their groceries. Jeva Lange

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