Will Lead be Gold in 2012?

An ongoing legal battle in Illinois may prove to be a watershed event, one that could easily result in  Democrats taking an even bigger hit in 2012 than they did in last year’s mid-term election. As the excerpt from the article below summarizes:

“In a showdown over the privacy rights of gun owners, the Illinois State Police are refusing to release a list identifying all firearm permit holders in the state after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan determined that the information ‘must’ be made public.”

In what can only be described as an outrageously intrusive and dangerous betrayal of confidentiality, the Democrat Attorney General of Illinois has decided to essentially “out” all of her state’s gun owners. This would not only make gun owners a target of burglars (looking to steal firearms), but would simultaneously put all those who do NOT own guns at risk, essentially announcing to every thug on the street that “anyone not on this list is unarmed and unable to protect themselves.”

Thankfully, even the Illinois State Police recognize the danger and stupidity in implementing such a policy. And law enforcement officials nationwide will doubtless be watching this story as it unfolds. Most working street cops distrust invasive government as much as we do – they own firearms, too.

But this latest attack on legitimate gun owners is only a small part of a much  larger issue, and what it could mean for Republicans, who are so far paying  little attention to a grass roots movement that could be a game-changer for them in the 2012 election.  I’m talking about what the public has been doing lately when it comes to guns – they have been voting with their dollars.

Because while most of the economy has been mired in recession, the gun business is booming – sales of all types of firearms have been going gang-busters, up 25% on average this past year alone, and even higher in some states. Now, if any other part of the economy were experiencing such remarkable growth in the midst of a moribund economy, it would big news in the media financial circles. But the bull market in guns has been a story largely untold.

The reason behind the lack of coverage is simple – most members of the mainstream press hate guns. Moreover, to properly report on the roaring sales of guns it would be necessary to explain the reasons that more and more people are buying them. Savvy political observers have noted that that the surge in buying began almost to the day that Democrats took over the Congress in 2006, with an even larger increase in sales coinciding perfectly with the election of Barak Obama. And, being overwhelmingly supporters of Democrats, the press would hate to publicize those facts.

Ammunition sales have followed a similar pattern – in the year following Obama’s inauguration, severe shortages of popular pistol and rifle calibers were reported across the country, as ammo flew off the shelves. I can personally attest to the fact that one big-box store in my city would receive a shipment at midnight, stock the shelves before they opened the doors at 6:00 AM, and within hours they were completely cleaned out.

Interestingly, since the 2010 election, and the Republican takeover of the House as well as many state legislatures and governor’s offices, the number of new gun purchases, while still at historic highs, has slowed a bit, and the ammo shortage has subsided. Shelves are now well stocked again. Once again, the correlation between guns and politics is unmistakable.

Meanwhile, the mainstream press continues to eagerly report on the latest shootings, as in the case of the Arizona Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords. But today, the  public is not responding to such incidents with calls for new gun control laws. On the contrary, they’re buying guns – stores report that sales of firearms invariably increase in the days immediately following reports of public shootings.

Even more important from a political standpoint is that a substantial percentage of those shopping for guns and ammunition today are first time buyers. Gun shops and large sporting goods chains alike will attest that new gun owners make up an increasingly larger share of their firearm sales.

What all this means is that there are significantly more gun owners today than there were just a few years ago, and support for gun control continues to decline. In the past, Democrats learned the hard way that gun control is a loser at the ballot box – and it’s even less popular today.

So if Republicans have any brains at all, they will welcome this latest attack by Democrats on what is a growing and and highly motivated voting bloc. And if they’re really smart, and they pick it up and run with it, Republicans may find that they truly can “turn lead into gold” – in the voting booth.

John Caile