Colt Manufacturing Led Charge For Gun Control In 1990s, Now Bankrupt

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Amid all the reports about Colt Defense, formally Colt Manufacturing, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week, one thing has been missing–Ronald L. Stewart spent his time as Colt CEO (1996-1998) pushing gun control and suggesting overarching federal regulation over guns would be better than state-by-state variations in gun laws.

The synopsis–Colt manufacturing led charge for gun control in the 1990s and the company is in bankruptcy in 2015.

On July 13, 1998, reported that Stewart was “[advocating] a comprehensive federal firearms law, including the creation of a federal gun permit. And he [wanted] gun owners to be licensed, tested and subjected to mandatory safety training.”

Again, this was the CEO of Colt saying these things–not a Democrat politician, not President Bill Clinton, not the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. And Stewart was not shy about defending his gun control push when gun owners cried foul and called for boycotts of Colt Manufacturing. But in defending himself, Stewart only made things worse for himself and the company.

For example, Stewart said:

I’m trying to address the question of how do you operate the gun safely so that you don’t injure somebody. It doesn’t make sense to stake out a position that is perceived by the public to be anti-safety….I’m not a gun nut, I’m not even a member of the NRA.

Read that again–Colt CEO says, “I’m not a gun nut, I’m not even a member of the NRA.”

That was 1998, Colt is in bankruptcy in 2015.

In addition to the explicit gun control push, Stewart turned Colt primarily toward law-enforcement and an expanded military market, and coupled that with a focus on “smart-gun technology,” which is a de facto means of gun control.

This chapter in Colt’s history goes a long way into explaining why Colt has not been embraced by Americans with the passion that Bushmaster, Daniel Defense, Glock, Ruger, Kimber, Sig Sauer, Springfield Armory, and so many others have during the 21st century.

Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at


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