DALLAS — Legendary gunmaker Colt made an unprecedented move on Thursday, announcing that it would temporarily cease production of its AR-15 rifles for the public market.
Colt's CEO, Dennis Veilleux, clarified that the company is not permanently ending production but believes there is already an adequate supply of sporting rifles on the market.
In other words, there are so many rifles already out there that it makes no sense for Colt to compete.
In a statement, Veilleux said that Colt would continue making AR-15s for the U.S. military and local law enforcement.
It's a business, not ethical move that says a lot about gun sales at the moment.
The AR-15 and other AR-15 style rifles have drawn national attention due to their use in mass shootings.
At the end of August, a lone gunman armed with an AR-15 went on a shooting spree between Midland and Odessa killing seven and injuring at least 25 people.
The rifle has climbed into the 2020 presidential race as well.
Democratic candidate Beto O'Rourke, who formally represented the El Paso area in the U.S. House of Representatives, received backlash and praise for addressing the gun in a recent debate.
"Hell yes we're going to take your AR-15 your AK-47," he said. "We're not going to allow you to use them against our fellow Americans anymore."
O'Rourke was asked about a proposed buyback program for AR-style weapons.
His comment has elevated awareness about the rifle. Numerous gun stores across the U.S. are capitalizing, holding "Beto Sales" when it comes to the popular gun.
Employees at Ray's Sporting Goods in Dallas, which has been around since 1949, told WFAA that it has seen an uptick in purchases now that gun restrictions are being debated so heavily among lawmakers.
"There is a percent that is buying out of panic, but it's small," said manager Taylor Graaf. "The majority would be people who already have them."
Another manager at the store, Cody Harris, said that he is seeing more first-time AR-15 buyers.
"Guys are coming in wanting to spend that paycheck or money that has been set aside because it is a priority right now," he said. "It's got some people worried."
So, it says a lot for Colt to bow out right now while other companies are cashing in.
However, Harris said that the gun giant has been outperformed by a number of other companies when it comes to the AR-15, offering more affordable options.
An AR-15, on average, can be sold as low for $400. Double that price and that's what an AR-15 made by Colt is usually worth.
"Colt is your bread and butter that's been used by police and law enforcement for a long time," Harris said. "But they've been pushed out of the market when it comes to being the best bang for your buck."
"We don't even stock that many," he added.
Colt has been the standard for many gun owners. It produced one of the first widely used semi-automatic pistols, which is known as the Colt 1911, that is still sold to this day.
It had a heyday during the Vietnam War when sales flew through the roof, mostly due to the production of the M16 rifle.
However, in 1992, the company filed for bankruptcy after losing key government contracts and experiencing a loss in demand from the civilian sector.
In 2015, Colt filed for bankruptcy again admitting that it couldn't afford to pay hundreds of millions that it owed to creditors.
It has been fighting to regain traction in the market ever since.
In this situation, Harris thinks that Colt is saving itself from financial burdens before they become a reality.
"It makes sense from a business standpoint for them to focus more on contracts," Harris said. "They are losing the market share with all of these competitors."
The one thing Colt does sell a lot of -- well, it's the same thing that made them famous, the Colt 1911.
While it takes a backseat ride to civilian AR-15 production, the household name will likely survive.
"Oh yeah, we sell lots of those," Graff said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report