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Second Amendment

Colt Stumbles Into Civilian Rifle Suspension

Liability fears are the likely motive behind Colt's surprising decision on AR-15s.

Political Editors · Sep. 20, 2019

In a confusing public statement, Colt Arms announced that it is suspending production of rifles for the civilian market, including the popular AR-15. According to Colt’s CEO Dennis Veilleux:

We want to assure you that Colt is committed to the Second Amendment, highly values its customers and continues to manufacture the world’s finest quality firearms for the consumer market. The fact of the matter is that over the last few years, the market for modern sporting rifles has experienced 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 also cited military and law enforcement demand, noting, “These high-volume contracts are absorbing all of Colt’s manufacturing capacity for rifles.”

This explanation appears rather dubious. The civilian market for rifles is brisk. A more likely explanation may be connected to the recent OxyContin settlement. As Mark Alexander observes, “If Purdue Pharma can be held liable for how physicians prescribe and consumers use its products, then will firearm manufacturers be next? Perhaps Colt believes that only those who are in current production of ARs would be liable when those legal challenges begin.”

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