The venerable gun manufacturer Colt is suspending production of the popular and controversial AR-15 and other long rifles for civilian use, as lawmakers continue the fraught gun debate following a series of mass shootings.
The company's president and chief executive, Dennis Veilleux, said that the consumer market has “experienced significant excess manufacturing capacity,” and that Colt believes there are enough rifles on the market for the foreseeable future.
Colt will instead focus on fulfilling military and law enforcement contracts.
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“Currently, these high-volume contracts are absorbing all of Colt’s manufacturing capacity for rifles,” Veilleux said in a statement. “We believe it is good sense to follow consumer demand and to adjust as market dynamics change.”
Veilleux reaffirmed the Connecticut-based company's commitment to the consumer market and the Second Amendment. He said Colt would still supply revolvers and pistols and is expanding its network of dealers.
“Colt has been a stout supporter of the Second Amendment for over 180 years, remains so, and will continue to provide its customers with the finest quality firearms in the world,” he said.
The move comes as gun manufacturers and dealers have come under intense pressure following a series of lethal shooting sprees involving AR-15-style weapons. Democratic White House contender Beto O'Rourke, who's from El Paso, Texas, where one of those massacres occurred, said recently that would confiscate military-style weapons from gun owners if he captures the presidency.
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“Yes,” said O'Rourke, who doubled down on his position during a recent appearance on CNN's “Cuomo Prime Time, “When it comes to AR-15s and AK-47s, weapons designed for use on a military battlefield, the high-impact, high-velocity round that is fired from those weapons. When it comes to those weapons … the answer is yes.”
Walmart recently announced it would stop selling handguns in Alaska and short-barrel rifle and handgun ammunition nationwide. Dick's Sporting Goods pulled hunting rifles from 125 of its stores earlier this year.
Fox News media reporter Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.