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Arms sales maintaining record levels in U.S.

The Americas Post - The SP-101 is one of the most popular handguns made by Sturm Ruger

Sturm Ruger & Co.’s recent announcement that it would freeze orders until it eliminates a huge backlog is the latest indicator that business is great for the U.S. firearms industry.

Late Wednesday, Sturm Ruger announced that it had received orders for more than 1 million units during the first quarter of the year. And despite “efforts to increase production rates, the incoming order rate exceeds our capacity to rapidly fulfill these orders,” Sturm Ruger said.

The company, which manufactures an assortment of rifles, pistols and revolvers, said that it expects to “resume the normal acceptance of orders by the end of May.”

Competing arms producer Smith & Wesson forecast sales of $395 million to $400 million for 2012 this month, up from an already-increased December estimate of $385 million to $395 million.

“We continued to work on expanding our firearm manufacturing capacity to meet increased demand, an objective we plan to continue in the coming months as we address our robust backlog,” Smith & Wesson said.

Its firearms backlog was, at the end of the quarter, $198.5 million — more than double the figure of a year earlier.

As an industry, firearms have barely felt the impact of the downturn. In fact, sales increased during the 2008 recession and have grown steadily, driven by economic uncertainty and unfounded concerns that President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress would seek to limit gun ownership rights.

Supporting the increase in demand were several Supreme Court decisions affirming that the right to bear arms is indeed an individual one as well as the reappearance a year ago of firearms in hundreds of Wal-Mart Stores.

According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation,  over 920,000 firearm purchase background checks were made in January alone, a gain of 17.3% over the same month in 2011. That marked the 20th consecutive month of increases, and some of those were performed for purchases of multiple firearms.  Furthermore, some private transfers and gun-show sales are exempt from the background-check requirements, so the actual number of guns sold is likely higher.

Earlier this year, the NSSF said at its annual trade show that “many indicators, including a record-setting 2011, show the firearms industry continues to thrive in a down economy and that the potential exists for another strong sales year in 2012.”

Demand “has continued at a robust pace since late 2008,” it said, as “more and more Americans are choosing to exercise their Second Amendment rights.”