Monday, 26 November 2012

Firearm Sales Skyrocket in Election's Aftermath

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Although gun-control advocates wish President Obama would act more quickly to curtail the Second Amendment rights of American citizens, gun owners have found his reelection to be sufficient motivation to increase their stockpiles of firearms and ammunition.

As reported previously for The New American, the days immediately following Obama’s reelection witnessed a significant increase in the value of the stock of several firearms manufacturers, and online ammunition retailers found that they were swamped with orders. As a writer for MSN Now wittily observed: “Those folks Obama once famously talked about as clinging to their guns are apparently expected to cling to more of them now that the president has been re-elected.”

Now, three weeks after the election, it is becoming clear that the post-election stockpiling is continuing. Erin Mulvaney wrote for the Houston Chronicle that post-election shoppers include not only long-term gun owners, but also those who have never owned a firearm:

Owners of some Houston gun shops say they have noticed an increase of gun sales since President Barack Obama's re-election, and attribute the rush to the president's reference in a debate to renewing an assault rifle ban.

Jim and Joy Pruett, who have run Jim Pruett's Guns and Ammo for 11 years, said sales have gone "through the roof" since Election Day. "We haven't been able to keep up with it," Pruett said. "It's beyond our wildest imagination."

Matthew Swan, a firearms associate at Gander Mountain on Hempstead Road, said he's also noticed an uptick in gun sales and ammunition since Obama's re-election.

"People come in here with opinions," Swan said. "There are people coming in that have never even been interested in firearms."

An article for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review noted that it was not only fears concerning the president’s views on gun control that were motivating firearm sales; fears of a widespread economic collapse and civil unrest drove others to prepare for the worst:

“There’s enormous concern about what’s going to happen and any kind of potential bans,” said Debbie Schultz, the owner of Schultz’s Sportsmen’s Stop in Kiski Township.

“It’s been a real significant increase. It’s handguns and black guns like AR-15s ... not weapons related to hunting, but personal security,” said Mark Boerio, owner of the Army & Navy store on Ligonier Street in Latrobe.

“It’s not just Obama’s re-election. People say they are concerned with the way the government is headed and where it’s going to lead with issues like the rising debt,” Boerio said.

Schultz said she hasn’t seen a big increase in sales since Obama was re-elected, but many of her customers speak of their fears.

“Listening to my customers, it’s twofold,” she said. “Half of them are worried about a ban on semi-automatic weapons, large clips, and that sort of thing.

“The other half is worried about the direction of the country and want to be able to protect themselves if something would happen,” she said.

The marked increase in gun and ammunition sales in the aftermath of the November elections is one more indicator of the fundamental divide in the American body politic. Although ostensibly a small majority of the voters believe the country is on the "right track," a significant proportion of the rest of the electorate believes that the elections are a signal of a coming time of even worse economic and social conditions and further attempts to curtail fundamental liberties. In a political environment in which talk of secession has become fodder for discussions in the mainstream media, it is little surprise that fundamental divisions over the nation’s future have inspired many Americans to take steps to assure themselves that they will be able to defend themselves and their families. As reported in the Tribune-Review article, a variety of survival gear is being targeted for stockpiling:

Tom Melago, owner of Chestnut Ridge Knife & Bow shop along Route 982 in Youngstown, has noticed the spike in business. He was selling weapons at a gun show at Pittsburgh Mills Mall in Frazier, Allegheny County, just after the election “and the place was really packed.”

“Most of the people said if Romney had won they wouldn’t have shown up. But it’s not only firearms; there’s been an increase in survival gear such as MREs (meals ready to eat), backpacks, knives and the like,” Melago said.

The firearm purchasing is a national trend: Federal background checks for firearms purchases increased by 23 percent in October over the same month in the previous year, reaching a total of 1.6 million in a single month. According to the Houston Chronicle, there was a “jump when Obama was first elected in 2008. A total of 12.7 million background checks were conducted nationwide, up from 11.2 million the year before. The number has continued to rise since.”

One of the nation’s more vocal gun control advocacy organizations — The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence — has given President Obama an “F" for his failure to enact the sweeping legislation favored by opponents of Second Amendment liberties. However, the Brady Campaign was quick to congratulate Obama for his reelection, declaring, in part:

We were heartened by the President’s response and stand ready to work with President Obama and leaders of both political parties in Congress to adopt and implement effective policies to reduce gun violence.

Numerous polls show that the overwhelming majority of Americans, including gun owners and NRA members, support sensible policies, like criminal background checks, that will save lives. The American public knows that we are better than a nation where mass shootings, like the one in Aurora, happen with such alarming frequency, and nothing is done about 32 more gun murders every day.

At present, the CDC attributes 443,000 deaths per year in the United States to smoking. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records approximately 32,000 to 40,000 driving-related deaths per year. At the time of this article, there is no word of a Brady Campaign to Prevent Smoking and Driving Deaths, even though neither driving nor smoking is related to the exercise of enumerated liberties in the Bill of Rights.

Meanwhile, according to the FBI, the national murder and violent crime rate has declined for five years in a row, at the very time that Americans have significantly increased their rate of purchases for firearms. A total of 14,612 persons were murdered in 2011. As the Christian Science Monitor reported last June: “The falling crime rate amid the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression has puzzled some criminologists, since crime historically spikes during hard times.” Although unmentioned by the Monitor, the possession of firearms by law-abiding citizens has often served as a powerful deterrent to violent crime. Since the time of the nation’s founding, the true “arsenal of democracy” has been found in the homes of law-abiding Americans. And firearms and ammunition continue to prove to be an area of the economy which is actually improving under an Obama presidency.

Photo of customer at a gun shop: AP Images