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Gun maker Remington files for bankruptcy protection

A Remington rifle and handgun on display at a firearms store in Atlanta.
(Erik S. Lesser / EPA/Shutterstock)

Remington Outdoor Co., which began making flintlock rifles when there were only 19 states in the union, has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Mounting debts at the arms manufacturer have snowballed, ironically since the election of President Trump, who has called himself a “true friend” to the gun industry.

Remington, which has roots dating to 1816, has lined up $100 million with lenders to continue operations.

It remains unclear what will happen to the 3,500 or so employees at Remington as the company reorganizes.

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Panic sales that drove revenue for gun makers ever higher evaporated with Trump’s arrival in the White House, and Remington’s production of one of the most well-known weapons in the world, the Bushmaster AR-15, has proved problematic for the Madison, N.C., company.

Late Sunday, according to records from the Bankruptcy Court of the district of Delaware, Remington agreed to a prepackaged deal that would give holders of the company’s $550-million term loan an 82.5% stake, according to a release.

Third-lien note-holders will take 17.5% of Remington and four-year warrants get a 15% stake.

The Bushmaster AR-15 rifle was used in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut in which 20 first-graders and six educators were killed.

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A similar gun was used to kill 17 in a Parkland, Fla., high school, a massacre that led to rallies that drew hundreds of thousands protesting gun violence to the nation’s capital and to the streets in cities across the nation Saturday.

The company was cleared of wrongdoing in the Sandy Hook shooting, but investors wanted nothing to do with it. Cerberus Capital Management, which acquired the company in 2007 as gun sales began to boom, tried to sell it less than a week after the shooting.

There were no takers.

But what doomed Remington was larger trends that already were underway.

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For years, arms manufacturers had ramped up production as gun ownership became a red-hot social and political flashpoint. Some gun-rights advocates have binged on guns on the misguided belief that a Democratic administration would harshly restrict gun sales.

Those misperceptions became moot with Trump’s rise to the White House.

Trump was the first sitting president to address the National Rifle Assn. in three decades, telling members at their annual meeting in spring 2017: “You have a true friend and champion in the White House.”

Any belief that more restrictive regulation was on the way evaporated.

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In 2017, firearm background checks — a good barometer of sales — declined faster than in any year since 1998, when the FBI first began compiling that data.

But there were clear signs that even as production of guns increased, gun sales were already in decline. By 2015, Colt Holdings Co., another storied gun maker, had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Profit growth at Sturm, Ruger & Co. is under severe pressure, and the company’s shares are down 18% this year.

Some of Wall Street’s heaviest hitters are stepping into the national debate on guns as investment firms ask firearms makers what they are doing about gun violence.

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BlackRock is a major shareholder in gun makers Sturm, Ruger, American Outdoor Brands and Vista Outdoor Brands. About a week after the shooting in Parkland, BlackRock said it wanted to speak with the three firearms makers about their responses to the tragedy.

It’s also looking into creating new investment funds for investors that exclude firearms makers and retailers.


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