Gun Profiteers: Who’s Getting Rich Off the US Gun Crisis?

Featured image: Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs – a big investor in gun retailer Bass Pro
The shooting rampage earlier this month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School put renewed focus on the firearms manufacturing industry – which, along with ammunitions production, accounts for an estimated $17 billion in revenue.
Thousands of students – with those from Parkland, Florida leading the way – have staged walk-outs across the nation to protest the firearms industry, the NRA, and industry’s bought-off politicians. It’s starting to feel like it could be some sort of turning point.
Even corporations are feeling the heat over their ties to the firearms industry. A slew of corporate have already ended partnerships with the NRA due to public pressure – United Airlines, Delta Airlines, MetLife, and First National Bank of Omaha among them. Dick’s Sporting Goods, a major firearms retailer, has just announced that it is halting all sales of automatic weapons, and both Dick’s and Walmart are raising their minimum age to 21 for all gun buyers.
BlackStone, the powerful private equity firm headed by billionaire Trump ally Stephen Schwarzman, even put out an urgent request to the funds it invests with to “detail their ownership in companies that make or sell guns,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
As the Parkland students and others think through questions of strategy, tactics,and targets, it’s worth reflecting on who holds power in – and who profits from – the firearms industry. Who are the billionaires and multi-millionaires that are profiting most off of gun sales in the US? Who are the executives and investors? Who holds power over the decisions that are made within the industry?
Some of these individuals come from the firearms manufacturing and retail industry itself – for example, top executives in the companies that produce and sell the guns. Others come from Wall Street – the hedge fund billionaires and big money managers that invest in the gun companies. Still others come from the big banks that finance the gun companies.
While a lot of focus has been on the NRA, these other corporations and individuals hold a lot of power over the firearms industry. If banks, investors, and retailers felt strongly that the decisions of gun companies were hurting their owns brands, they could exert a lot of leverage – the threat of pulling their credit arrangements and investment stakes, or limiting or ending gun sales – to force change.
Understanding the powerful figures behind the gun industry helps provide a potential path for challenging it. We put together a list to help readers make sense of the different players who are profiting from firearms sales in the US.
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