Other companies expected to benefit from any increase in pistol and revolver sales are Hartford, Conn.-based Colt's Manufacturing Company, which does not trade publicly, as well as the Austrian gun maker Glock and Italy's Beretta, both of which have large U.S. subsidiaries.
In general, gun sales, as reflected by data from the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check system, have risen in the past decade. The NICS system, which was created in 2000, reported 8.5 million checks that year. In 2009, there were 14 million checks, up from 12.7 million in 2008. In the first six months of this year, there have been around 7 million checks.
Data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives shows that more handguns are being made in the U.S. in recent years. Around 1.9 million pistols were made in 2009, up from 1.6 million in 2008 and 1.2 million in 2007, according to the ATF.
The election of President Obama, viewed by gun enthusiasts as being staunchly anti-Second Amendment, had been expected to bring a spike in gun sales as buyers rushed to buy firearms before there were new limits.
Kristen Rand, legislative director at the Washington, D.C.-based Violence Policy Center, said there is NICS data that supports a mild post-Obama-election gun sale uptick in late 2008 and early 2009. But she countered that the recession has jammed retail firearm sales since then.
"If gun makers and sellers see their business as being poised to take off, then I'd say it's a case of wishful thinking," Rand said.
In a recent Washington Times Op-Ed,Washington, D.C.'s metropolitan police chief, Cathy Lanier, pointed out that in the two years after a ban there was lifted (as a result of the Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller), only 900 handguns and semiautomatic rifles or shotguns that could not have been registered before the decision ended up being registered after it came down.
Underscoring her opposition to any further easing of gun restrictions, Rand said that since May 2007 concealed handgun permit holders have killed 175 people.
"The NRA positions itself as being about Constitutional rights," Rand said. "In reality, it is a shill for the gun industry, nothing more."
One store that has seen an increase in handgun sales in recent weeks has been Backwoods Outdoors in Leesburg, Georgia, three hours south of Atlanta. Handgun sales shot up dramatically in the past few weeks, although, according to store manager Christy Vallandingham, it had little to do with the Supreme Court ruling.
"There was a local business owner who got shot during a robbery last week," she said. "Around the same time there was a hostage incident at a nearby Family Dollar store. Afterwards I'd say we had about a dozen small business owners come into the store to buy guns."