Gunmakers shares fall after NRA presser

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Heading into the National Rifle Association press conference Friday, shares in the two publicly traded gunmakers, Sturm Ruger and Smith and Wesson, began to rally.

As the conference went on, the recovery in share prices faltered and then fell, as the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre blamed the massacre in Newtown and other places on an irresponsible media, violent video games. He then said the NRA would begin work on a plan to protect schools with an armed policeman or other such responsible person in each school across the country.

Adding a police presence to schools is a popular proposal and the NRA did say it will advocate for a national registry of people with psychological problems to keep them from owning Guns. It’s unclear if having someone on such a list in your household would mean everyone in the household would be barred from owning a gun.

Much of LaPierre’s speech was being ridiculed, early and often.

Lines such as, “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun,” and “This is the beginning of a serious conversation. We wont’ be taking any questions,” both were wildly popular with gun control advocates on Twitter and Facebook.

Meanwhile, Ruger, which donated more than $1 million to the NRA through a special promotion last year, saw its shares drop after a brief rally.

Shares in Ruger, which had risen to $44.21 from $43.78 dropped steadily as LaPierre’s comments hit the air. Ruger shares were trading at $43.14, with a little more than two hours left in the trading day. In the last two hours, Ruger reclaimed some lost ground and finished down just 0.43 percent at $43.59.

Ruger remains an attractive stock, as the company has zero debt as it increased sales dramatically over the last four years. Though it makes autoloading rifles, similar to the ones that gun control advocates are targeting, Ruger’s pistols are among the most popular in the nation and it has several botl-action rifles for hunting.

Smith and Wesson, likewise, saw its share plunge at the opening of trading but then climb heading into LaPierre’s conference, getting as high as $8.25 before falling steadily and was trading at $8.06 with two hours left in the trading day. Like Ruger it made up some ground, but still finished down 1.88 percent at $8.10.

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Rob Varnon

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