American Outdoor Brands, which owns Smith & Wesson firearms, said Wednesday it would split into two companies. The move would leave an outdoor products business and hive off the firearms business into a separate publicly traded company.
The decision was motivated by “significant changes in the political climate as well as the economic, investing, and insurance markets,” Barry M. Monheit, chairman of American Outdoor Brands, said in the statement on the company’s website.
American Outdoor Brands’ share price has sunk over the past year as retailers and businesses have faced growing pressure from the public and investors to curb gun violence after mass shootings.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court allowed relatives of shooting victims at the Sandy Hook Elementary School to sue the Remington Arms Company, the maker of the rifle used in the massacre.
In October, Dick’s Sporting Goods said it destroyed more than $5 million of military-style, semiautomatic rifles and was considering whether it would continue to sell guns at its stores. In September, Walmart said it would stop selling ammunition that could be used in military-style assault rifles after a shooting at one of its stores in El Paso. Colt, the gun maker, said in September that it would effectively suspend production of sporting rifles for the civilian market.
James Debney, the president and chief executive, will lead the outdoor pursuits business, while Mark Smith, the president of the manufacturing services division, will take up the role of chief executive at Smith & Wesson Brands, the firearms business.