Gun Sales Surge: The Bounce Obama Didn’t Expect

Barack Obama was expecting to see a bump in his numbers after his Democrat National Convention acceptance speech on Thursday evening. However, the bump that has occurred is in the gun industry. The gun market is booming. This is one part of the economy that has held fast during the Obama administration.

In a conference call with analysts, CEO of Smith & Wesson James Debney said, “We are undeserving the market at this moment, we all know that, and that’s a great opportunity going forward for us.”

The gun maker reported stellar earnings which caused its stock to jump more than nineteen percent on Thursday.

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Because of the strong sales, S&W have had a backlog of orders. The company has more than doubled its orders since last year at the same time.

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However, Smith & Wesson are not alone. Sturm, Ruger & Co. outpaced themselves this year. They produced their millionth gun for the year ahead of last year’s pace.

Ruger President and CEO Mike Fifer issued a statement in which he said, “It took us nearly all of 2011 to build one million firearms, but in 2012 we accomplished it on August 15th.”

Here’s a report as to why the demand is so high:

Speculation has focused on fears of a coming regulatory crackdown on gun ownership. Liberal administrations tend to be anti-gun and so, the thinking goes, an Obama re-election would set the stage for stricter gun purchasing requirements. Hence, people are buying now in anticipation of difficulty later.

Indeed, looking at background checks for gun sales (a metric commonly used to gauge general industry performance) 2009 showed a measurable increase that many attributed to Obama’s election.

Is it the same this year? Some anecdotal evidence tends to bear that out.

Though the White House has confirmed that Barack Obama would like to ban guns, no matter what he actually tells people, it seems that he has become the poster child for gun sales.

While some speculate that Obama is the reason for the gun sales and because of mounting cries for more gun control and regulations, others believe the issues if more about where the economy is headed and the opportunity for civil unrest.

While some believe the gun industry cannot sustain such sales figures, others disagree. Cai Von Rumohr, an analyst with Cowen & Co., said, “We think there is broader drivers, broader acceptance of the use of guns and more target shooting. So we think it’s more than just safety and more than just fear of not being able to buy guns.”

Forbes reports that the trend in gun sales has been going on long before Barack Obama took office. Frank Miniter writes,

But the thing is the surge is gun sales didn’t begin in 2008. Over the last 10 years (from 2002 to 2011) there has been a 54.1 percent rise in the number of NICS checks and the increase hasn’t all taken place since 2008. In 2005 there were 8,952,945 NICS checks. In 2006 the number topped 10 million. In 2007 NICS checks pushed passed 11 million. In 2008 NICS checks passed 12 million, and then hit the 14 million mark in 2009. They increased slightly (4 percent) through 2011.

So attributing this entire trend to President Obama’s anti-gun reputation is disingenuous, yet many in the media like this explanation because by saying the increase in gun sales is only about President Obama they can then write the whole thing off as a simple-minded fear from those who “cling to guns and religion.”

He also goes on to point out

What has been happening is that the NRA, the NSSF and other gun-rights groups have been busy fighting for Second Amendment rights, advocating for participation in the shooting sports, instructing people how to shoot and store firearms safely, working with police officers and the military and doing a myriad of other things. The NRA has also been lobbying, defending the Second Amendment in courtrooms all over the country and growing its membership. As a result, they’ve attracted more Americans to the shooting sports, made the shooting sports safer and helped more people learn to shoot and to defend themselves.

You can see this reflected in the number of concealed-carry permits. From the mid-1980s to today America has become a mostly “shall-issue” nation with regards to concealed-carry permits. (Shall-issue laws typically prevent local governments from arbitrarily refusing to give permits.) Today 41 states have right-to-carry laws and 38 states have “shall-issue” laws. In fact, a total of 49 states have laws that, to varying degrees, solidify citizens’ right to carry certain concealed firearms in public, either without a permit or after obtaining a permit. Only Illinois is without such a provision.

Miniter does present a very balanced article which I recommend reading. There is both positive and negative reasons for gun sales increases. However, he ends the article with a sober reminder:

Though I don’t want to discount the fear. After all, when the Supreme Court twice comes within one vote of ruling that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights isn’t an individual right, Americans have a right to be concerned. When an incumbent president seeking a second term has already put two people on the nine-member Supreme Court who would vote away this basic human freedom, they have the right to be fearful. And when you realize that, if reelected, that incumbent president would have a good chance of getting a few more Supreme Court picks, and so could reshape the high court for decades, people have a right to be motivated to buy firearms now.

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