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Stocks Rise for Maker of AR-15 Rifle Used in the Florida School Shooting

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Stocks were up Thursday for American Outdoor Brands, the company that makes the AR-15 rifle used in the Florida school shooting that claimed 17 lives.

The company’s shares closed up 1.49%, netting the company an additional $8.8 million on the day.

The Associated Press reported that accused gunman Nikolas Cruz used a Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifle – a variant of the AR-15 – during his allegedly shooting spree at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday.

Smith & Wesson, which was founded in 1852, is a Springfield, Mass.-based holding of American Outdoor Brands. Competitor Sturm Ruger & Company, which also makes an AR-15-style rifle that has been used in at least one mass shooting, closed even on the day.

Shares of American Outdoor Brands closed 5.6% higher on Wednesday, the day of the shooting. It’s not uncommon for gun maker shares to rise following a mass shooting as people are likely to stock up fearing potential gun control measures.

This is the third time an M&P15 has been used in a mass shooting in the United States.

James E. Holmes, who was convicted of killing 12 and wounding 70 in the 2012 Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting, used a Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifle. An illegally modified Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport rifle was recovered by law enforcement officials after the 2015 San Bernardino shooting, where 14 people were killed.

M&P is Smith & Wesson’s brand that was originally aimed at law enforcement and military (hence the name M&P standing for military and police). The M&P15 rifle was introduced in 2006 and is described on the website as a “modern sporting rifle.” The company says the rifle, in part thanks to its lower price ($500 to $600), has quickly become the most popular sporting rifle in the U.S.

“Our M&P branded modern sporting rifles are specifically designed to satisfy the functionality and reliability needs of global military, law enforcement, and security personnel,” according to American Outdoor Brands’ 2017 annual report. “As a result, these long guns are popular with consumers as hunting and sporting target rifles and are sold through our sporting good distributors, retailers, and dealers.”

Overall, long guns, like the M&P15, made up $179.6 million, “or 19.9%, of net sales for the fiscal year ended April 30, 2017,” according to the 2017 report.

The AR-15 is the civilian version of the military’s M-16 (the major difference being that the AR-15 is not fully automatic), and has been called the “most popular rifle in America” by the NRA. AR-15s have also been increasingly used in mass shootings, including in Newtown, Conn., Orlando, Florida, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Sutherland Springs, Texas.

American Outdoor Brands did not respond to a request for comment.

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