President Trump promised to revive manufacturing in the U.S., but one once-burgeoning sector is poised to shrink under his watch: the gun industry, the Associated Press reports. Fears of government limits on guns led to a surge in demand during President Obama’s tenure, and manufacturers leapt to keep up. Over the decade ending in 2015, the number of U.S. companies licensed to make firearms jumped 362 percent. Now, sales are down and the bubble appears to be bursting with a staunch advocate for gun rights in the White House and Republicans ruling Congress. “The trends really almost since Election Day or election night have been that gun sales have slacked off,” said Robert Spitzer, political science department chairman at State University of New York at Cortland.
The pendulum swing is apparent at Battle Rifle Co., tucked into a strip mall outside Houston, with a storefront section featuring cases filled with handguns and walls lined with assault rifle-style long guns. “President Obama was the best gun salesman the world has ever seen,” said production manager Karl Sorken, an Army veteran who voted for Obama. “You might have people who were more inclined to buy because they were worried they might not be able to later. That’s going away for sure.” There are nearly 10,500 U.S. gunmakers, many of them founded since 2000, said Larry Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Many are drawn to long guns. Sales for them rose after a Clinton-era ban on “assault weapons” expired in 2004. Politicians’ threats to restrict them drove demand. Shooting sports grew in popularity, and returning veterans sought out weapons they used in Iraq and Afghanistan. From 2004 to 2013, sales of all handguns — pistols and revolvers — increased nearly fivefold, and sales of rifles tripled.