Ohio Gov. John Kasich makes no secret of his support for gun rights. He's proud of his endorsement from the National Rifle Association.
So if he wins the GOP nomination and takes the White House next November, the possibility of stricter federal regulations -- which firearms producers routinely cite as a risk factor in regulatory filings -- would be substantially lessened, based on both his own statements and his history.
While Kasich admits voting in favor of an assault weapons ban in 1994, when he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, he says he quickly found that it was superfluous and had no real impact in reducing crime.
"We should have tough laws against people who use a gun in committing a crime," Kasich said at an Aug. 19 town hall meeting in New Hampshire. "But I think people have the right to protect their families, to hunt."
Late last year, the lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association praised Kasich for enacting a law that trimmed training and minimum-residency requirements for gun buyers in Ohio and expanded provisions allowing visitors to carry concealed weapons there if they had licenses to do so from another state.
The U.S. still needs better safeguards against the sale of guns to mentally ill buyers, Kasich says, blaming the lack of them -- and of appropriate mental-health treatment -- for several mass shootings.
"We know that there are holes in our system for sending a warning to people when they come into buy a gun," Kasich said. "We've seen it over and over and over."
While there are obvious benefits to the firearms industry from the election of a gun-rights supporter, it doesn't necessarily follow that the election of a gun-control advocate -- or a candidate perceived as one -- would be bad for their businesses. At least, not immediately.
Smith & Wesson (SWHC) , for instance, noted a spike in revenue after President Barack Obama took office in 2009 as buyers rushed to procure firearms before regulations that might make obtaining them more difficult.
Following is a look at some of the companies whose stocks might benefit from a more favorable regulatory environment and how they're gauging the election season so far:RGR data by YCharts
Sturm, Ruger & Co.
Sales at the Southport, Conn.-based company, which describes itself as "strongly opposed to laws" restricting firearms purchases by law-abiding citizens, declined 5.5% in the first nine months of 2015.
The possibility of tougher regulations curbing profit and limiting development of new products is an ongoing concern for the business, Sturm Ruger (RGR - Get Report) noted in a regulatory filing last year.
Still, third-quarter sales were a bright spot, climbing 23% from the previous year to $120.9 million, while profit rose to 62 cents a share.
"As you go into 2016, where none of us knows the answer, we can all start imagining that there could be some impact from politics," CEO Michael Fifer said on a Nov. 5 earnings call. "We'll go in the primary season with a lot of politicians talking loudly one way, pro or against, and that might be spur a little bit of interest.
Smith & Wesson
At Smith & Wesson, sales in the three months through July -- its fiscal first quarter -- climbed 12% to $147.8 million as revenue in the Springfield, Mass.-based company's firearms division gained 1.9%.
In a June filing, company executives highlighted the risk of policy shifts following elections and related consumer concerns -- as well as the potential payoffs. '
"We experienced strong consumer demand for our firearms products following a new administration taking office" in 2009, executives noted, referring to the installation of Democratic President Barack Obama, following eight years of Republican control of the White House.
"People buy because they're afraid of future legislation," CFO Jeffrey Buchanan said at an RBC industrials conference in September, noting that with Obama's election, the fear was based on the new president being a "pronounced liberal."
But "there hasn't been a lot of legislation," Buchanan added. "So it's hard to tell whether or not an election will once again trigger a fear of more legislation."
Some Democratic candidates, he said, "are more pronounced in their wanting to legislate firearms than President Obama was when he was elected."
Like its rivals, Smith & Wesson also noted that tougher regulations could severely damage its financial performance.
Freedom Group, the closely held producer of Remington rifles and the largest maker of commercial firearms, posted a 5.9% drop in sales, to $202.1 million, in the most recent quarter for which figures were available.
The company highlighted risks from potential fluctuations in both government contracts as well as sales to retail giant Wal-Mart, which accounted for 9% of its 2014 revenue.
"Changes in regulation could materially adversely affect our business by restricting the types of products we manufacture or sell or by imposing additional costs on us or our customers," Freedom Group noted in its earnings report for the three months through June.
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