Gun Bankruptcy: Sandy Hook Lawsuit Sinks Remington

Remington has been an American firearms tradition for more than 200 years. That long and storied history appears to be in jeopardy due to a Sandy Hook School shooting lawsuit in 2012, and dwindling sales that have forced the company to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The firearms manufacturer was reportedly poised to file bankruptcy in February, but the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, prompted Remington Outdoors Company to hold off on the filing. Since the tragedy, outlets such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and others have self-imposed restrictions on Remington firearm purchases. The company makes the Bushmaster AR-15 often erroneously called an “assault rifle.” Remington may also have been bracing for additional litigation.

According to reports, Remington ownership plans to hand over the organization to its creditors in a deal that would wipe away the vast majority of its debt. The company was bought by Cerberus Capital Management LP for $118 million back in 2007. Cerberus took on upwards of $252 million in debt. Gun violence and the stigma associated with Sandy Hook, among other factors, have led to firearm enthusiasts turning elsewhere.

Over the last year, the comfort of pro-Second Amendment President Donald Trump has made nervous gun owners more comfortable about restrictions that have slowed industry sales. Gun manufacturers, including Remington, had reportedly created a surplus of inventory expecting Hillary Clinton to win the White House followed by an immediate run on firearms. The events have created a perfect storm for the once-revered gunmaker.

Families of victims in the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings assailed Remington and other gun manufacturers in a civil lawsuit after the deadly massacre. The suit was initially dismissed in a Connecticut Superior Court, but was appealed to the state’s Supreme Court in November of 2017. The Connecticut high court has yet to render a ruling on the wrongful death suit. Although legal experts expect the court to uphold the lower court dismissal, a reversal could open the door for an industry-crippling series of litigation from the anti-gun lobby.

Despite its AR-15 emerging as the poster-child for the anti-gun lobby, Remington ranks among the oldest and finest American firearm manufacturers.

The outfit was founded by Eliphalet Remington II, who started out creating rifle barrels while only 22 years old. His gun-making prowess earned him equal stature with contemporaries of his time, including Samuel Colt, Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson.

The company’s groundbreaking innovations include the first slide-ejection, side action shotgun in 1931. Remington developed the rifle to compete with the popular Winchester repeater. The Remington 12-gauge slide-action shotgun, developed in 1950, ranks as the top-selling Remington ever.

Adding to the history, famous Remington owners have included Annie Oakley, George Armstrong Custer and Buffalo Bill.

The Chapter 11 bankruptcy does not necessarily herald the end of the Remington line of firearms. This type of financial filing allows the company to negotiate a debt resolution with creditors without permanently closing its manufacturing operations. This type of business reorganization certainly makes the company’s future uncertain.

An unfavorable court decision on the Sandy Hook lawsuit could put the final nail in the gun-makers coffin.

~ Firearm Daily

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