U.S. gun manufacturer Colt has suspended production of AR-15s, used in several mass shootings in the past decade, and other military-style long rifles for civilians.
Production is no longer necessary because a manufacturing glut saturated the civilian marketplace with rifles in recent years, Colt CEO Dennis Veilleux said. He noted that existing contracts with the U.S. military and law enforcement departments were “absorbing all of Colt’s manufacturing capacity for rifles.”
“The fact of the matter is that over the last few years, the market for modern sporting rifles has experienced significant excess manufacturing capacity,” Veilleux said in a statement. “Given this level of manufacturing capacity, we believe there is adequate supply for modern sporting rifles for the foreseeable future.”
Colt’s decision comes amid unprecedented political scrutiny over the sale and potential regulation of the AR-15 and other rifles for civilian use in the wake of several mass shootings. An AR-15-style rifle was used in the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, in which 26 people were killed, and in the 2018 shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in south Florida that left 17 dead.
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke has called for a ban and mandatory buybacks for assault-style weapons.
“Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” O’Rourke said at the Democratic presidential debate last Thursday.
Colt, a Connecticut-based firm that emerged from bankruptcy in 2016, said it remains committed to the Second Amendment and civilian customers.
“At the end of the day, we believe it is good sense to follow consumer demand and to adjust as market dynamics change,” Veilleux added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.