Legendary gun maker Colt has announced Thursday that it would stop making the AR-15 and other long guns for the civilian market, citing falling demand and obligations to military and law enforcement markets.
In a statement, Dennis Veilleux, president and CEO of the 180-year-old, Connecticut-based manufacturer, explained the company’s reasons for the move, which had been reported in trade and other publications.
“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,” he wrote.
Demand from military and law enforcement, he added, was expanding at the same time.
“Our warfighters and law enforcement personnel continue to demand Colt rifles and we are fortunate enough to have been awarded significant military and law enforcement contracts. Currently, these high-volume contracts are absorbing all of Colt’s manufacturing capacity for rifles,” Veilleux said.
And he reassured customers that the company remained committed to both the civilian market — but only for handguns at this time — and the Second Amendment.
“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,” he wrote.
Colt’s current long guns are all based entirely on the AR platform, according to the website MilitaryTimes.
Colt made its mark in the rifle market in the 1960s after buying the design and trademarks associated with ArmaLite’s select-fire AR-15 , which was adopted by the US military as the M16 assault rifle.
By the mid-1960s, Colt began selling a semi-automatic version, dubbed the Colt AR-15, to the civilian market, and the gun gained popularity with recreational shooters, hunters and law enforcement.
The sale of AR-15s and similar rifles was banned by the Federal Assault Weapons Ban from 1994 to 2004, but has been legal since.
The company’s statement cited only market forces and manufacturing capabilities for the move, which came at a time when gunmakers and lawmakers are under increasing pressure to adopt tougher gun laws following the country’s continuing wave of deadly mass shootings.
President Trump said the White House was working with Congress and others on proposed legislation, but that progress was slow.