Gun Stocks Crumble in Sandy Hook Aftermath

The news has made a full sweep by now: the gun used in the Newtown massacre was an AR-15-style rifle made by Bushmaster. Some businesses are curbing their relationship with the firearm as fast as possible, as some investors are cutting their ties from the gun makers.

Dick’s Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS) pulled all guns from its store closest to Newtown, and suspended sales of many similar semi-automatic rifles nationwide. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT) took down an informational website about the rifle and is also pulling some semi-automatics from its shelves.

The AR-15 semi-automatic is like a civilian version of the military’s M-16 or M-4, and is a weapon of choice for target shooters or small-game hunters. The weapon is widely available in the U.S., with conservative estimates suggesting that between 3.3 and 3.5 million AR-15 style rifles have been produced in the U.S. since 1986. The gun is widely considered to be a cash cow for retailers and manufacturers.

The Newtown tragedy is not the rifle’s first public appearance. The weapon was used in July when James Holmes opened fire in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 people. The weapon was also used by Jacob Roberts last week at a mall shooting in Oregon. As a result, the gun itself seems to have become a symbol for the messy debate that has begun as a result of Friday’s shooting…

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