Venerable gun manufacturer Colt says it will stop producing the AR-15, among other rifles, for the consumer market in the wake of many recent mass shootings in which suspects used the weapon.
“At the end of the day, we believe it is good sense to follow consumer demand and to adjust as market dynamics change,” Dennis Veilleux, president and CEO of Colt, said in a statement. “Colt has been a stout supporter of the Second Amendment for over 180 years, remains so, and will continue to provide its customers with the finest quality firearms in the world.”
The company did not mention mass shootings in its statement about stopping production and instead blamed the indefinite pause in making the weapon on a “significant excess manufacturing capacity.”
“Given this level of manufacturing capacity, we believe there is adequate supply for modern sporting rifles for the foreseeable future,” Veilleux said.
Colt will continue to make weapons, including rifles, for the military and law enforcement. It will also continue to produce its signature 1911s and revolvers.
The AR-15, and AR-15-style rifles, have been used in a number of mass shootings in recent years. While it’s not clear if Colt was the specific manufacturer in the cases, the shooter in the Poway synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh killed 11 people with an AR-15.
Nikolas Cruz, who confessed to killing 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2018, used an AR-15-style gun.
Twenty-six people were killed with the same type of rifle in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in February 2017.
Dozens of rifles, including AR-15s, were found in the hotel room where Stephen Paddock allegedly killed the most people in a shooting in modern U.S. history in Las Vegas in October 2017.
Colt’s Manufacturing Company opened in 1836 in Hartford, Connecticut, and is legendary for its Civil War-era revolvers, such as the Colt Walker, the Peacemaker and M1911.
The suspension of production already caught the eye of 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, who recently called for a buy back of all assault-style weapons and said weapons of war had no place in the hands of civilians. O’Rourke mocked a photo posted on Twitter by the NRA saying he was increasing sales of AR-15s with a link to a story about Colt stopping production.
Several stores have stopped selling assault rifles in recent years in the wake of shootings, including Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart.