Soaring Gun Sales: An Indicator of the Real State of the Union?

The news that gun sales on Black Friday set an all-time record for a single day went largely ignored by the mainstream press. But the flood of gun buyers over the Thanksgiving retail blitz was only the most recent example of a phenomenon that has been growing over the last five years. A bit of history will help.

According to the FBI’s NICS records, from 2000 through most of 2006 the number of firearms purchases remained remarkably stable, averaging around 8.5 million transactions per year. But toward the close of 2006, gun sales began to rise dramatically, ending the year at over 10 million. The following year, 2007, sales again rose to over 11 million. [http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/reports]

To those in the gun rights community, the reason was obvious – Democrats had just taken over the House of Representatives, and even Democrat gun owners have learned to distrust Democrats when it comes to guns (ask Al Gore about that – he lost his own home state in 2000, in large part as a result of his support for gun control).

But it was the election of Barak Obama that really ignited the current sales frenzy. With Obama’s election, over 3 million guns were purchased in the last two months of 2008 alone, ending the year at 12.7 million. Then, in 2009, the very first year of the Obama administration, Americans bought a record 14 million guns, a whopping 40% increase over the first year of George Bush’s presidency.

Now, admittedly a few Republicans (Mitt Romney comes to mind) have jumped on the gun control bandwagon from time to time, but since the 1960’s the majority of restrictive gun legislation has come from Democrats. And both national and local elections have proven that gun owners will cross party lines to protect their rights.

Perhaps even more important than the raw sales numbers is the fact that a large number of these gun purchasers are first time buyers, with a growing percentage being women, both young and old. And contrary to the media spin that the increase in gun sales is due to more people participating in  “sporting” activities, the fact is that the primary reason most people give when asked why they are buying a gun is “for protection.”

Now, if any other area of the economy were experiencing such dramatic growth during bad economic times, it would be the headline on all of the cable business channels. Talking heads would be breathlessly discussing the amazing performance, endeavoring to discover the underlying drivers. But don’t hold your breath waiting for the CNN or MSNBC business gurus to even mention the roaring gun sales.

Because to do so would inexorably lead to the reasons for the buying binge – Obama and his cabal of anti-gun comrades like Attorney General Eric Holder. The ongoing “Fast and Furious” scandal is merely the latest chapter in the Democrats’ stealth war against legitimate gun owners. As a result, many people who never even considered owning a gun before have come to the conclusion that “now is the time.”

Besides purchasing guns, more and more Americans are also getting permits to carry a handgun for personal protection, and signing up in droves for training in shooting for self defense. They are Democrats and Republicans, male and female, young and old, gay and straight. As a certified firearm instructor who teaches carry permit classes and defensive handgun tactics, I often ask my students what their motivation was for seeking training.

The answers invariably involve concerns about violent crime, the fear of social unrest, or both. They see the videos of vicious “flash mobs” attacking innocent bystanders, or the screaming “occupy” protestors threatening violence if they don’t get their “share” of other people’s money. And it worries them.

It is often said that what people actually do, especially with their money, is a far better indicator of what they are thinking than what they say. If that is true, then the growing number of Americans who are buying guns for the first time are showing quite clearly that they are increasingly distrustful of their government’s ability to protect them.