Sunday, December 4, 2011

Good News: Gun Sales Are Up

For all you Obama fans, or reluctant fans, out there, here’s a portent of good news—guns sales hit record numbers on Black Friday (http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2011-12-01/gun-sales-up-black-friday/51554972/1).

The counterintuitive omen signifies the initial evidence the conservative crowd may have realized the goal of giving the president his walking papers will be harder than getting Congress to pass compromise budget legislation. On Black Friday, the FBI received a record number of requests (129,166) from gun dealers for background checks on prospective buyers. Requests exceeded by 32% the previous high, set on Black Friday 2008.

In case you fail to see the significance of that prior record date, it was the first Black Friday after the election of Barack Obama. Gun toters and Second Amendment advocates feared Obama and his Democratic Congressional majority would push through more restrictive firearms laws (which they didn’t), so they rushed out to fill their gun chests with all manner of revolvers, assault rifles and semi-automatics.

Prognosticators often look for outlier signs to aid them in forecasting the future. For example, to predict manufacturing output they check the level of corrugated box shipments. To audit retail inventory levels and divine sales, analysts scour container shipment availability months before the holiday season.

Though gun enthusiasts explain the surge in purchases to more women wanting protection, as well as those who have newly discovered the sport of shooting and hunting, my money is on the political explanation. Crime statistics also don’t corroborate another reason advanced, that the sour economy has fostered a more dangerous environment. As the NY Times reported last May, “The number of violent crimes in the United States dropped significantly last year, to what appeared to be the lowest rate in nearly 40 years, a development that was considered puzzling partly because it ran counter to the prevailing expectation that crime would increase during a recession.

“In all regions, the country appears to be safer. The odds of being murdered or robbed are now less than half of what they were in the early 1990s, when violent crime peaked in the United States. Small towns, especially, are seeing far fewer murders: In cities with populations under 10,000, the number plunged by more than 25 percent last year.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/24/us/24crime.html)

Yes, the reason for higher guns sales seems obvious. Given the antipathy even Republican voters have to their slate of potential presidential nominees, and the outright disdain the public has for the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, fear of Obama’s re-election and Democratic ascendancy in the House appear to be driving gun purchases. It might not be a rational response, but no one ever accused gun purchasers of acting rationally.

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