Assault Weapons Like The AR-15 Face Uncertain Future If Trump Loses

A congressman looks at various models of Bushmaster rifles at the 142nd annual National Rifle … [+] Association (NRA) Convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center May 4, 2013 in Houston, Texas. AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should be KAREN BLEIER / AFP via Getty Images)

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The future is uncertain for the AR-15, a tactical rifle known as an assault weapon, black rifle, or modern sports rifle. While not everyone agrees on the name, everyone seems to agree that much is at stake for its continued existence as a readily available firearm in America.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his runner-up Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) Have their sights set on assault rifles used in the deadliest mass shootings in the United States, including the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown. Conn., 2012, Orlando Pulse Nightclub in 2016, Las Vegas Harvest Music Festival in 2017, and Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018.

President Trump is against gun control and has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association. But if the Democrats win the White House and Senate on November 3, Biden-Harris’s gun control policy would have a profound impact on assault rifles.

Biden has proposed banning the manufacture of assault rifles and requiring that all existing assault rifles be registered under the National Firearms Act, which adds a tax of $ 200 and increases the waiting time for background checks from minutes to months. The government would buy back all assault weapons that are not registered under the NFA, a level of gun control normally reserved for machine guns and silencers.

This is an abomination for gun owners who have long argued that Democrats are trying to take their guns away. The buyback would face logistical challenges as there are so many assault rifles that the arms industry prefers to refer to as modern sport rifles, or MSR for short. America is inundated with AR-15, an easy-to-use weapon originally developed for the US military as the M16 that debuted during the Vietnam War and has been used in every war since then.

“Expect near zero registration compliance for senior MSR owners,” said Brian Rafn, a recently retired weapons industry analyst for Morgan Dempsey, whose family owns shares in Sturm, Ruger. “I would expect class actions and injunctions against any attempt to list MSR rifles under NFA regulations.”

He estimates that there are 94 to 97 million gun owners in America, with a “civilian arsenal” totaling 578 million firearms. These include around 10 million owners of 17 to 20 million assault rifles.

The Biden campaign says the buyback program would pay the market value for assault rifles. But Rafn says it’s more complicated. He expects the aftermarket prices for assault rifles to rise by 20% to 30% as a result of gun control measures and inflate the funds required for cash purchases. Additionally, gun owners can often customize their AR-15 with modular accessories such as telescopic sights, grips, lights, and slings. He said this could add value to the owner beyond the market value identified through a buyback.

Gun sales soared to record highs over the summer, driven by customer desire for self-protection during the pandemic and the riots that followed. The background checks for arms purchases conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation reached a record $ 3.93 million in June. The 2020 number has already exceeded every year since the FBI started keeping track of things in 1998.

But what would really boost sales is a Biden win in the presidential election, said Rommel Dionisio, arms industry analyst at Aegis Capital Corp.

“Concerns about possible restrictions on modern sporting rifles and high-capacity magazines would likely result in a dramatic increase in demand for MSRs and high-capacity pistols,” said Dionisio, referring to magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds. They were used in mass shootings and their sale and manufacture were banned by Biden.

Colt produces a short, compact version of the AR-15 for the US military called the M4 that is used by soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of the semi-automatic versions of the AR-15 are also made by US manufacturers for the civilian market, including Smith & Wesson, which makes the M&P 15, and Sturm, Ruger, which makes the AR-556, and Daniel Defense. Springfield Armory, Savage Arms, CMMG, and Standard Manufacturing to name a few. Non-AR designed assault rifles are also manufactured by Kalashnikov USA and Hill & Mac Gunworks.

Connecticut State Police released the Sandy Hook Report

NEWTOWN, CT – UNSPECIFIED DATE: This handout uses one of the … [+] Connecticut State Police display a Bushmaster rifle in Room 10 of Sandy Hook Elementary School following the December 14, 2012, unspecified date on the rampage in Newtown, Connecticut. On November 25, 2013, Connecticut District Attorney Stephen Sedensky III released a report summarizing the Newtown School shooting that killed 20 children and six women at Sandy Hook Elementary School. According to the report, a motive for the shooting of the shooter Adam Lanza is still unknown. (Photo by Connecticut State Police via Getty Images)

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Remington was also a noted maker of the AR-15, including the Bushmaster rifle used in the Sandy Hook massacre of 26 first-grade students and educators. Family members of the victims have sued Remington, who announced in February that it was no longer doing Bushmasters. The suit was suspended in the Connecticut Supreme Court because Remington filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time in September.

Remington sold some of its assets in bankruptcy proceedings, including the sale of its Bushmaster brand to gun maker Franklin Armory, a Nevada-based AR-15 maker.

It was a risky move so close to election day. If Biden wins the election, can Franklin Armory produce Bushmasters? Dionisio said “a lot is at stake” in the upcoming election for Franklin Armory, who did not answer questions from Forbes about his plans for the Bushmaster production.

“If Biden wins, the potential passage of laws banning MSRs and high-capacity magazines would have near-catastrophic long-term effects on the US firearms industry as a whole,” said Dionisio.

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