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June 24, 2014

Local gun dealers report sales slump

Smith & Wesson stock price sees 10-percent slide

By Jessica Reynolds Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — After firearm manufacturer Smith & Wesson announced a significant drop in rifle sales recently, area gun dealers said Monday they are not surprised and said it is something they have been dealing with on a local level, as well.

The well-known Massachusetts-based manufacturer’s stock fell more than 10 percent Friday after its outlook predicted a sharp decrease in gun sales, according to the Associated Press. 

The company now expects first-quarter earnings of between 23 and 25 cents per share, which is significantly below the 40 cents per share that Wall Street analysts had previously expected. Shares of Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. decreased by $1.76, or 10.3 percent, to $15.24 in afternoon trading Friday, the Associated Press reported.

Local gun brokers said the decrease in sales is not just with military-style semiautomatic rifles, but with all styles and brands of guns. 

Ray Zullin, owner of Ray’s Sport Shop in Fleischmanns, attributed the decrease in gun sales to the poor state of the economy, in general.

“Business is dead all over,” Zullin said. “The economy’s shot. People aren’t buying guns because they’ve just got no money.”

John Marino, owner of Marino Firearms in Hancock, said it only makes sense that gun sales are now decreasing because they were up so high in 2013.

“Last year was my highest-selling year ever,” Marino said. “This year, sales have been down quite a bit. The sales had to come back down to earth. It just makes sense.”

Smith & Wesson does not manufacture many rifles to begin with, Marino said. The only ones the company does make are black, military-style semiautomatic rifles, or “assault rifles,” which, in New York, can now only be sold to law enforcement as a result of the New York SAFE Act, he said.

Marino said 40 percent of the guns in his stockroom became illegal for him to sell overnight after the SAFE Act was passed by the Legislature in January 2013.

Gun sales skyrocketed just before and after the SAFE Act was passed, Marino said, because people were afraid new laws would soon make it impossible to buy firearms.

“People panicked,” Marino said. “The possibility of stricter laws and tragedies tend to spurn on the sale of guns. The same thing happened after Sandy Hook. As horrible as it was, all the gun companies flourished after that.”

Marino added that a few gun companies have designed and introduced New York-compliant non-pistol-grip versions of rifles to get around the SAFE Act, some of which he sells at his shop. But, to his knowledge, Smith & Wesson has yet to make one of these, he said.

Although he can no longer sell assault rifles from his store, Marino can still sell them to out-of-state buyers online, he said. However, he often has trouble attracting buyers because many of the guns are left over from when previous gun restrictions were in place and aren’t desirable anymore. Handguns are very popular right now, Marino added. 

Jim Losie, owner of Losie’s Gun Shop in Oneonta, said there are many reasons why the sale of guns is on the decline. 

But the biggest reason for the drop in gun sales is because of an ammunition shortage, Losie said. He blamed the Obama administration for the shortage in bullets.

Guns won’t be flying off the shelf again any time soon as long as there’s a shortage of ammunition, Losie said.

“Are you going to come in and buy a gun from me if you don’t have any ammo to go along with it?” Losie said. “No, you’re not. So people don’t. “