Gun stocks slide as Trump pushes new gun rules

Gun makers’ shares continued to slide Wednesday in the aftermath of the recent school shooting in Florida, as President Donald Trump called for new gun-control rules and two large retailers announced tougher age restrictions for firearm purchases.

Renewed calls for gun control have put corporations in the spotlight. Delta Airlines, Hertz and other companies facing pressure on social media cut ties with the National Rifle Association, while Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart said they would stop selling guns to customers under 21 years old. The federal age limit for rifles is 18.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry trade group representing manufacturers and retailers, said it was “disappointed” by Dick’s decision. The sporting goods retailer will also end sales of all modern sporting rifles, such as AR-15s.

“We respect the right of all companies to make the decisions they believe are appropriate for their business,” the NSSF said in a statement. “We note that the Dick’s Sporting Goods announcement acknowledges the vast majority of gun owners are responsible and law-abiding. Indeed, they are and should not be penalized for the actions of criminals.”

Also on Wednesday, President Trump held a White House meeting with lawmakers to discuss legislation addressing gun laws. Trump has voiced support for raising the legal minimum for rifle purchases to 21 years old and expanding background checks to gun show and online sales. He has also supported laws that would allow teachers to carry weapons. At times during the meeting, Trump suggested that lawmakers are “afraid” of the NRA.

The NSSF has called on Congress to pass the so-called Fix NICS bill, which aims to improve mental health and criminal records in the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

“Members of our industry believe that unauthorized individuals should never have access to any firearm, of any kind, at any time,” the group said.

Sturm, Ruger & Co. dropped 6.6% in Wednesday trading. American Outdoor Brands, the owner of Smith & Wesson, fell 3.2%. Both gun makers set fresh 52-week lows. Vista Outdoor, the parent company of Savage Arms and a manufacturer of ammunition, was down 4.2%.

Ruger, American Outdoor Brands and Vista Outdoor didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Shares of Dick’s ticked 22 cents higher, or 0.69%, after announcing its revised age limits and a decision to stop selling high-capacity magazines. Walmart shares rose slightly in after-hours trading.