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Industry News: Data Indicates Strong Gun Sales This Year
By Robert Hausman

Data released by the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) reveal a very active year so far for background checks leading to the sale of firearms.

From January through June, NICS reported 5,221,633 background checks, a 19% increase from 4,384,156 in the same period in 2006. May and June showed the largest increase year-over-year, with 28% and 29% increases respectively. The increase coincides with an increase in excise tax collections paid by firearms and ammunition manufacturers, another key economic indicator for the firearms industry.

New TASER Unit Contains Unique ID Device

TASER International, Inc., the producer of electronic control devices, has made the first shipment of the TASER C2, an affordable, futuristic palm-sized device designed for consumer self protection and incorporating a revolutionary new public safety background check technology called CheckLok, that could have implications for firearms manufacturers.

“We designed the TASER C2 with the consumer in mind from the ground up by listening to our customers,” said Kathy Hanrahan, president and chief operating officer of TASER International. “Although we have sold over 136,000 TASER systems to consumers since 1994, our focus since 1998 has primarily been in the law enforcement arena. However, over the past year our engineers were able to make tremendous technological advances to reduce the size, modernize the look and provide our TASER cutting edge technology for consumer self-defense at an affordable price.”

“With CheckLok, TASER C2 units are shipped in an inactive state. They cannot be used until the purchaser successfully completes a background check from the privacy of their own home or office using a secure web site or a toll-free number. After passing the background check, the purchaser is issued an activation code unique to their serial number. The TASER C2 will work only after entering the activation code,” Hanrahan continued.

The TASER C2 unit features the following capabilities:
  • Up to a 15-foot range from the device conducting energy that temporarily incapacitates an attacker by overriding sensory and motor functions.
  • CheckLok public safety background check technology guaranteeing that the device cannot be used until the purchaser successfully completes a comprehensive background check.
  • A unique anti-felon identification (AFID) technology, which disperses 20-30 serialized pieces of confetti whenever a TASER Cartridge is deployed to help prevent and track potential misuse.
  • A light, sleek, hand-held design that can fit in a pocket or purse.
  • Available in four designer colors that are evidently designed to appeal to women: Black Pearl, Titanium Silver, Electric Blue, and Metallic Pink.
  • A safety cover and trigger design that users can easily operate with their thumb. In addition to the TASER C2 device, the package includes a disposable TASER cartridge, owner’s manual and training DVD video. More information is available at: www.TASER.com.

The TASER C2 retails for a base price of $299.99. It is available now at several retailers including Academy Sports + Outdoors (www.academy.com); Cabelas, Inc. (www.cabelas.com); and Gander Mountain (www.gandermountain.com).

Sturm, Ruger Reports Significant 2nd Qtr. Sales Increase

Second calendar quarter 2007 net firearms sales of $39,567,000, as compared to firearms sales of $29,222,000 in the same quarter last year, are reported by Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.

For the six months ended June 30, 2007, net firearms sales totaled $83,237,000, versus $70,047,000 for the first half of 2006.

Castings sales did not fare as well as net castings sales for the three months ended June 30, 2007 were $2,540,000, compared to $6,054,000 in the corresponding quarter of 2006. For 2007’s first six months, castings sales were $7,327,000, as compared to $12,656,000 in the first half of last year.

Total net sales for 2007’s second quarter were $42,107,000 versus $35,276,000 in 2006. Total net sales for the first six months this year were $90,564,000 and $82,703,000 in the first six months of 2006.

Gross profit was $13,128,000 in 2007’s second quarter (after deducting cost of products sold) versus $8,385,000 in the second quarter of 2006. For the first six months this year, gross profit was $28,692,000 versus $18,528,000 last year.

After deducting selling, general and administrative expenses, operating profit was reported at $6,048,000 for 2007’s second quarter versus $1,779,000 in the corresponding quarter of 2006. For the first six months, operating profit made a significant gain to $13,963,000 compared to $4,075,000 for the first six months of 2006.

A gain on the sale of non-manufacturing assets during the first half of 2007 (not present in the 2006 results) and significantly higher other income, resulted in a net income (after income taxes) of $5,131,000 in the first quarter of 2007 compared to $1,448,000 in the same quarter in 2006.

Net income for 2007’s first six months was $13,192,000 versus $2,868,000 during the first six months of 2006.

The company’s effort to reduce inventories has been working. Net inventories stood at $11,570,000 at June 30, 2007 as compared to $24,406,000 on December 31, 2006.

Research Report on American Gun Ownership

Nearly 60 percent of adults in West Virginia have a gun at home, according to a new survey by the West Virginia Health Statistics Center.

West Virginia ranks sixth in the nation in the percentage of people who keep a firearm in their house. Meanwhile, a little more than 10% of state residents have a loaded gun at home - the 18th highest rate in the nation. And about 6% of West Virginia adults have loaded and unlocked guns in their homes. Nineteen other states had higher rates, according to the survey.

Wyoming had the highest percentage of adults - nearly 66% - with firearms in their homes, followed by Montana, South Dakota, Alaska, Arkansas and West Virginia.

Nationally, firearms can be found in nearly one-third of U.S. households.

Washington, D.C., had the lowest percentage of people with guns in their homes at 4.3%. The lowest ranked state was New Jersey with 10% of residents admitting having guns, according to the survey.

Alabama had the highest percentage of residents with loaded firearms at 17%, followed by Arkansas, Mississippi and Alaska.

Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., had the lowest percentage of people with loaded guns in their homes (in both places it is illegal to keep a stored, loaded firearm at home).

According to the survey, Alaska had the highest proportion of people with loaded and unlocked firearms. Arkansas was next, followed by Mississippi, Alabama and Wyoming.

NSSF Touts Black Rifles at Writer’s Event

After relegating makers of tactical or “black” rifles to back aisles at the SHOT Show for a number of years, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is now actually campaigning for them.

At the 2007 Professional Outdoor Media Association conference in Minneapolis North, Minnesota August 2-4, NSSF “rolled out a new campaign to help traditional hunting and gun writers learn more about the surging popularity of tactical rifles and gear. The campaign included range time with several AR-15 platform rifles, a luncheon presentation, information packet, interviews and photo ops with industry representatives,” according to a NSSF press release.

The move apparently stems from the emergence of such products in the catalogs of such traditional “old line” firearms makers as Smith & Wesson and the acquisition of Remington Arms Company by Cerberus Capital, which also owns Bushmaster Firearms.

Proposed Gun Law Prompts Gunmaker’s Move

An Illinois gun maker plans to move to Iowa after the LeClaire, Iowa City Council agreed to sell city-owned land to the company.

The council voted recently to approve the sale of the land to Les Baer Custom for $10,000. The company is currently based in Hillsdale, Ill., but its owner, Les Baer, decided to move after Illinois lawmakers proposed a ban (which the state’s governor actively supported) on the distribution, sales and manufacturing of semiautomatic firearms.

Baer hopes to move into a one-story steel building in LeClaire by November. The building will be used to make custom 1911 handguns and AR-style rifles. The move initially will create 14 jobs with a total of at least 18 jobs by 2010, Baer said.

Initial opposition to the plan by com munity activists who objected to the move of a firearms manufacturer in their community quieted and no one spoke in opposition of the project during the final city council meeting.

Rick Reed, president of the LeClaire Chamber of Commerce said the custom firearms company will help strengthen the city’s manufacturing base.

“We’re thrilled to see Les Baer will be coming to our community, and we welcome new businesses and manufacturing to LeClaire,” Reed said. The council also voted to give Les Baer $150,000 in tax increment financing.

Savage Range Systems Wins Contract

Savage Arms’ sister company, Savage Range Systems, was recently awarded a contract to build a 25.8-meter range for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at their Regina facility. The range will be designed with 16 lanes and is expected to provide training for over 2,700 cadets over the next year.

Gun Writer Bill Passes California Assembly

Firearms regulations are so bad in California that the law prohibits a journalist (read ‘gun writer’) to receive a handgun not listed on the state Dept. of Justice’s “not unsafe” roster list for the purpose of evaluation.

With National Rifle Association backing, the state Assembly, July 19th, passed AB854, which is intended to create a system that will allow a loan to take place through a dealer and to be returned to the manufacturer through a dealer for the sake of evaluation for publication. The bill was sent to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) for consideration. The bill is evidently intended to benefit the firearms publishing firms situated in California, which have had to hire personnel in other states to do shooting tests and photograph certain guns banned in California.

FBI Has Half-Million Names on Watch List

Civil liberty advocates are highly critical of the FBI for having an estimated halfmillion names on its “terrorist watch list.” One critic accused the Bureau of being “out of control.”

“It (the list) grows seemingly without control or limitation,” American Civil Liberties Union senior legislative counsel Tim Sparapani told ABC News. “If we have 509,000 names on that list, the watch list is virtually useless. You’ll be capturing innocent individuals with no connection to crime or terror.”

Bushmaster Sponsoring Match

Bushmaster Firearms International has become sponsor of the Mountain Man Aggregate of the inaugural Bushmaster Cup presented at last July’s National High Power Rifle matches at Camp Perry.

The Bushmaster Cup is a specially commissioned and engraved red crystal vase by Krystof. One Bushmaster Cup will be awarded to the Overall Champion, and one to the Top Junior, with the highest overall shooting scores using a factory Bushmaster rifle. Both vases will be presented to the winners and will become their property to take home.

Kalashnikov Vodka on U.S. Market

Vodka Kalashnikov, now available in the U.S., is based on a select recipe approved by Mikhail T. Kalashnikov, designer of the AK-47 rifle. It was the first vodka ever to be created by combining salt, sugar, vanillin and glycerin.

Created in the time-honored, classical tradition, this elite vodka is a supreme class of spirit, called “LUX”, distilled from a high-quality grain and specially prepared with softened, thoroughly filtered water. The four food additives greatly enhance the quality of the vodka. The product’s unique mellow character and extremely high quality have been recognized through international awards.

In 1999, Vodka Kalashnikov was awarded finalist of the All-Russia program of competition of “100 best goods of Russia.” It also earned medals and honorable mentions for quality and original registration at the international and All-Russia competitions of 1995-2000 years including bronze at the international fair Evrika in 1999 and 2000 as well as the seal of approval of London’s international trade fair of wines Olympia - 99.

Ingredients: Spirit “LUX”, ultra-purified water, glycerin, vanillin, salt and sugar syrup. 40% Alc./Vol. (80 Proof) Volume1L Produced by LVZ Glazov.

Each bottle has a private clock number stamped on an individual locket shaped with the appearance of a military ID plate, commonly called a “dog tag”.

The U.S. contact for Vodka Kalashnikov is VRG International, Inc. (www.vodkakalashnikov.com)

Nevada Carry Permit Holders May Need Background Check

The Nevada state legislature’s failure to pass a bill may mean that the 25,000 Nevadans with concealed weapons permits may have to undergo a federal background check every time they buy a gun.

For years the Bureau of ATF has exempted Nevada permit holders from undergoing a check with each gun purchase. Now that exemption may be scrapped. Firearms buyers in Nevada who do not hold a concealed carry permit must pay $25 for a background investigation when they buy a firearm. But those with permits have been exempted because they undergo background checks when they get their carry license.

Frank Adams, executive director of the Nevada Sheriffs’ and Chiefs’ Association, said the ATF in the past was dissatisfied with the checks made by local sheriffs and so the local law enforcement agencies beefed up the process. But the ATF also wanted state law to conform to the local sheriffs’ practices. Bill AB21, backed by the sheriffs and chiefs, was aimed at satisfying the federal agency’s wishes, but it recently died in the state Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Adams said his association plans to ask the federal government for an extension based on the fact that local sheriffs still conduct the checks, even though state law has not yet been changed.

ATF Celebrates 35-Years as an Independent Bureau

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, which traces its roots back to the 1789 congressional imposition of a tax on imported liquor, is celebrating 35 years as an independent federal law enforcement bureau.

It was July 1, 1972 when the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division of the International Revenue Service became the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms within the Department of the Treasury. When the Bureau moved to the Department of Justice in 2003, it added “Explosives” to its name.

ATF’s history includes actions against organized crime figures during Alcohol Prohibition popularized in the “Untouchables” television series. The Bureau’s agents, in tracking down producers of untaxed alcohol or “moonshine” from rural stills were those referred to as “revenooers” by the hillbilly still operators.

“The world has changed dramatically in the intervening years since 1972 and ATF has adapted and evolved,” Acting Director Michael J. Sullivan said in a message to employees. “On this anniversary, ATF experts are arresting career criminals and dismantling violent gangs, investigating the origin and cause of catastrophic fires, and sharing explosives expertise by training our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The author publishes two of the small arms industry’s most widely read trade newsletters. The International Firearms Trade covers the world firearms scene, and The New Firearms Business covers the domestic market. He also offers FFL-mailing lists to firms interested in direct marketing efforts to the industry. He may be reached at: FirearmsB@aol.com.

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