Colt suspends production of AR-15s for civilians

The company will, however, be expanding its production of pistols and revolvers.

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September 20, 2019 - 8:41 am

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WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP/KFTK) - Proponents of gun control laws on Thursday received support from an unexpected source: the Colt gun manufacturing company.

In a surprise announcement, Colt officials revealed they're no longer going to produce rifles for the civilian market, and instead will focus on manufacturing firearms for the military and police. Among the rifles that will no longer be available is the popular AR-15 automatic.

"The fact of the matter is that over the last few years, the market for modern sporting rifles has experienced significant excess manufacturing capacity," says Dennis Veilleux, Colt's chief executive officer. "Given this level of manufacturing capacity, we believe there is an adequate supply for modern sporting rifles for the foreseeable future."

The company will, however, be expanding its production of pistols and revolvers, Veilleux adds.

Despite a national debate on gun control, Colt’s decision seems driven by business considerations rather than politics, said Adam Winkler, a gun policy expert at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law.

FBI statistics show more than 2.3 million people applied for background checks to purchase guns in August, up from just over 1.8 million in July. Those applications, the best available statistic from tracking gun sales, has have been rising steadily, with a slight decline after Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, something call the "Trump slump."

Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, whose hometown of El Paso was the site of a shooting in August left 22 people dead, has been pushing for mandatory rifle buybacks over the last few weeks.

Related: Beto O'Rourke asked if he'll take AR-15s away from Americans: 'Hell yes'

“Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47, and we’re not going to allow it to be used against your fellow Americans anymore,” O’Rourke, a said during a Democratic presidential debate this month.

The parents of a young woman killed in the 2017 Las Vegas massacre filed a wrongful death lawsuit in July against Colt and seven other gun manufacturers, along with gun shops in Nevada and Utah, arguing their weapons are designed to be easily modified to fire like automatic weapons.

In Connecticut, gun-maker Remington is facing a lawsuit involving liability for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in which a Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle used to kill 20 first graders and six educators on Dec. 14, 2012.

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