Zombie Firearm Economics
There are a number of interesting trends in the world of firearms as the presidential election approaches. Many of them are driven by one encouraging fact: as a political wedge issue, firearms are a non-starter. Post-Heller and McDonald, Democrats are determined, for the most part, to stay away from any suggestion of gun control, properly seeing it as political suicide. Of course, dedicated Marxists always seek to take guns from the law-abiding and our current federal government is shot through with true believers and sympathizers. Paradoxically, it is these people and the ever-present threat they represent to the Second Amendment and all American liberties that is driving many positive firearm-related trends.
While Mr. Obama’s policies have all but destroyed much of the American economy, the business of firearms and related accessories is truly booming. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Obama is not producing dramatic teleprompter readings touting this lone economic success, and the irony is he actually is, in large part, responsible for the success of the firearm industry. This one really isn’t George W. Bush’s fault.
It doesn’t take new firearm owners long to learn of Brownell’s, one of the world’s foremost sources of gun parts, gunsmithing tools and all manner of gun accessories. Consider this from the April, 2012 edition of their Webbench e-mail newsletter:
First, this year is the most successful start of a year for the industry, ever. From all accords, it beats the 2008 build-up to Obama’s election. Frankly, we believe the possibility of a second Obama term is driving a large portion of this bump; however, we have observed the largest entrance of new shooters through the conceal carry market we have ever seen. So this increase is really much more than a political bubble, it is what we are calling a ‘conceal carry surge’. There are some very significant nuances of this – some pretty far reaching. For instance, people are realizing with the ever-tightening restrictions of law enforcement funding, they are even more responsible for protecting themselves and their families. Further, as the castle doctrine becomes more widespread, they have better ability to do so. Another major factor is the huge urbanization of the firearms culture and market. Here in Des Moines, Iowa, alone, there are two indoor shooting clubs and retail stores looking for space so they can start serving this ever-growing market. And every class our local sheriff or other qualified trainers hold on our range for conceal carry training is full for the foreseeable future. We know this is the same situation in many urban areas across America. Also, note the stock prices of the publicly-traded firearm companies are up significantly. Smith and Wesson has surged 83.5% since January, and Ruger stock has increased 60%.
Interestingly, Ruger recently had to stop accepting orders for several months because they had no hope of filling them. Across America gun stores feature portraits of Mr. Obama, not because they respect him in his role as president, but because they satirically acknowledge him as the greatest firearm salesman the world has ever known. Americans believe—and with good reason–that in a second term, unrestrained by the desire for reelection, Barack Obama and Eric Holder would do everything they could to damage the Second Amendment and persecute law-abiding gun owners. The on-going Fast and Furious debacle stands as a disquieting reminder of the lawlessness of the Obama Administration.
In addition, in at least one way, a growing number of Americans are returning to the wisdom of those who founded our nation, and who conquered the continent. They realize, once again, they are solely responsible for their safety and the safety of those they love. More than at any time in history, women are returning to this knowledge essential to individual and societal survival, and are learning to shoot and purchasing firearms in record numbers. A seven-part series I recently wrote at Stately McDaniel Manor, my home blog, outlines the rationale for gun ownership. The first article in that series is available here.
One of the really big happenings in our industry right now is that the ammo for the very popular calibers − .223, .40, 9mm, .38 and .380 – is becoming more and more scarce. Lead times from the factories are extending out to 3rd and 4th quarter, even into 1st quarter 2013, and the “pipeline” from the factory to the retail store is drying up. What this means is every person who is interested in having these calibers to shoot over the summer appears to be buying as much as possible right now, when they can find it, for fear it will not be available or prices will increase to the point of being ludicrous. Our guys who attended the recent Tulsa Gun Show told us pallets of .223 ammo were disappearing within a day. This bump looks like it will be just like, if not greater than, the 2008 ammunition bump. We also get reports that it is very hard to have AR-15 rifles in stock and the smaller conceal carry firearms are moving in huge volumes this first quarter. We expect that pattern to continue throughout the summer if not all the way to the end of the year. All-in-all, it is going to be a fantastically successful year for the firearms industry.
I’ve noticed the ammunition shortage here in Texas as well. It was particularly severe for awhile during 2008. At that time, I was exploring the .17 HMR caliber, and finding the Hornady cartridges I favor in that caliber in any quantity was quite a chore. Ammunition is available, but if you want it, particularly in 1000 round lots, it’s best to buy when you can these days. It’s just not possible to have too much ammunition!
One of the other factors driving the incredible economic success of the American firearm industry is new gun owners, particularly women. After purchasing that first gun, many neophytes discover that not only is shooting a great deal of fun, it inspires a genuine boost in self-confidence and a positive approach to life. It also encourages new shooters to shoot more, and to purchase additional weapons and accessories as they quickly learn that a single firearm is not appropriate for every situation. Women understand accessorizing and approach shopping in general with a zest unknown to men—bless their little hearts! With firearm and accessory manufacturers catering to women as never before, there is far more to attract women to gun shops, and far more to satisfy them than ever before.
In October of 2011, Gallup caught the firearm upsurge in its polling, according to The Daily Caller:
Skeezeballs and perverts beware: Ladies have access to guns these days, and they aren’t afraid to talk about it.
Self-reported gun ownership is at an all-time high among women, according to Gallup’s annual poll on gun ownership in the United States.
According to Gallup, 43 percent of women report household gun ownership, up from 33 percent in 2009. The poll found that 23 percent of women personally own firearms.
The trend follows a rise in U.S. gun ownership in general, regardless of party affiliation or region.
Forty-seven percent of American adults say they have a gun in their home or elsewhere on their property. That’s up from 41 percent a year ago, and the highest percentage since 1993.
Republicans are still more likely to report gun ownership, but the number of Democratic gun owners spiked dramatically — rising from 30 percent in 2009 to 40 percent this year.
Gallup’s Oct. 6–9 poll also determined that public support for personal gun rights is at an all-time high.
In November of 2011, Wisconsin’s shall issue concealed carry law went into effect, leaving Illinois the sole American state with no provision whatsoever for concealed carry. To be accurate, a number of states such as California and New York do have concealed carry provisions, but in practice, only the wealthy or politically connected are ever allowed to partake of a right the rest of America takes for granted. Wisconsin residents wasted no time taking advantage of the Second Amendment, according to this AP report published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
MILWAUKEE - Firearms-related businesses in Wisconsin say they are having a difficult time meeting demand from rising gun sales in the state.
Wisconsin’s gun sales follow a national trend, and businesses say the rising demand is being driven by various factors, from Wisconsin’s concealed carry law to presidential politics.
‘It’s incredible,’ said Steve Lauer, owner of Lauer Custom Weaponry, which manufactures firearms, firearm coatings and accessories in Chippewa Falls. ‘We can hardly keep up.’
Exact figures on firearms sales don’t exist, but based on the number of calls made to the FBI and Wisconsin Department of Justice for background checks related to firearms purchases, more guns are being sold this year than ever, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/KuIrD8) reported Sunday.
The 16,000 calls to Wisconsin’s handgun hotline in February were a record. This year, the hotline has handled more than 53,000 calls and it’s on pace to surpass 2011, when the hotline handled nearly 90,000 calls…
‘We’ve seen our business increase 20 percent to 30 percent over last year,’ said Kevin Nugent, owner of The Shooters Shop in West Allis. ‘It’s just been phenomenal.’
The company is expanding at its current location and is opening an affiliate store called The Bunker in June.
‘The biggest problem is finding the inventory,’ Nugent said. ‘You can’t find the inventory. When it’s offered, you buy it. That’s all you can do. It’s a very good problem to have…’
Wisconsin’s concealed carry law also is cited as a factor. The Wisconsin Department of Justice has issued more than 100,000 concealed weapons permits since the law took effect in November. In announcing the 100,000th permit, the department said it continues to receive hundreds of applications each day.
‘We’re seeing a lot of new shooters and a lot of women shooters,’ Nugent said.
Even ABC News, long a strong journalistic proponent of any and every gun control scheme, is reporting on trends that can no longer be ignored. Notice the commentary on President Obama, something that at one time, ABC would have consider blasphemous:
‘He’s never been pro-gun,’ says Cris Parsons of President Obama. Parsons, 31, owns a Texas gun purveyor called the Houston Armory. So far, Parsons insists, Obama has been ‘pretty coy’ about his antipathy toward guns–and he likely will remain so during the campaign. To do otherwise would ‘upset a lot of people.’
But if Obama wins a second term, he’ll have ‘nothing to lose,’ says Parsons.
Alan Korwin, author of nine books on gun laws, including ‘Gun Laws of America,’ says gun owners are worried that the president, as a lame duck, will clamp down as never before on gun ownership.
Parsons says about 40 percent of Armory customers cite this fear as their reason for stocking up on guns and ammo now, before the election.
‘Frenzy” is the word he uses to describe their buying. Dollar sales for the Armory are up 30 to 40 percent this quarter compared to last. Parsons thinks his store’s performance is indicative of sales nationally, based on what he hears from dealers, suppliers and other store owners.
Gun maker Sturm, Ruger says that in the first quarter it received orders for more than 1 million firearms–so many that it has now had to stop taking orders. Says a notice on its website: “Despite the company’s continuing successful efforts to increase production rates, the incoming order rate exceeds our capacity to rapidly fulfill these orders. Consequently, the company has temporarily suspended the acceptance of new orders.” It expects to resume accepting orders, it says, at the end of May.
Stocks of gun makers are surging. Sturm, Ruger’s share price is up 55 percent this year. Smith & Wesson soared 91 percent. Sporting goods and hunting retailer Cabela’s is up 53 percent.
ABC also notes an extraordinary development: Zombie-related guns, accessories, and competitions:
Then there are zombies–zombie movies, zombie comics, zombie novels, zombie TV shows. Americans’ fascination with all things zombie, Parsons says, has grown to such proportions that arms manufactures now have come out with zombie-specific firearms and ammo. Products include a line of Zombie Max ammunition (slogan: “just in case”) made by Hornady Manufacturing. ‘We can’t keep it in stock,’ says Parsons. ‘It comes in a cool, colorful box with a Zombie on it.’
There are more than a dozen manufacturers, says Parsons, making zombie riffles, some with a picture of a zombie on them The two position on a zombie rifle’s safety, instead of being marked “safe” and “fire,” are labeled “dead” and “undead.
There is, of course, no such thing as zombies (I think), and Hornady’s ammunition is nothing more than high quality conventional ammunition cleverly marketed to keep up with current trends.
For a more national perspective, consider this interview of Steve Sanetti, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), done at the 2012 SHOT Show in Las Vegas by Frank Miniter, published in Forbes:
“According to the FBI, over 1.5 million background checks on customers looking to purchase a firearm were requested by gun dealers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) last December. That’s a record. In fact, nearly 500,000 of those background checks occurred during the six days before Christmas—people were putting more than Red Rider BB guns under their trees!
This $4.1 billion industry ‘has had nineteen months of growth in an otherwise anemic economy,’ boasts Sanetti. ‘We’re grateful and proud that our industry has helped maintain jobs from the manufacturer through retail levels during these difficult economic times.’
However, this upbeat sector of the economy hasn’t yet been praised by a president looking for good economic news to tout, which is too bad, as he’s helping these manufacturers.
Back in 2009 gun manufacturers labeled President Barack Obama as the ‘best gun salesman of all time.’ They weren’t even jesting. The FBI recorded a 49 percent rise in gun background checks during the 2008 election week compared to the same week a year earlier. Fear of coming gun-control legislation certainly helped sell those guns, though how much is impossible to say.
Indeed, this prolonged surge in gun sales has driven Sarah Brady’s group to some very creative spin; for example, Caroline Brewer, of the Brady Campaign, said, ‘The research we’ve seen indicates fewer and fewer people are owning more and more guns.’
Sanetti doesn’t think the Brady Campaign’s spin has a syllable of truth in it; after all, he pointed out that the NSSF’s First Shots Program (a program that holds shooting lessons for the public) has been growing fast. ‘Fun, new action-shooting sports, such as 3-gun and sporting clays, are also bringing in a lot of new shooters, especially women,’ he says.
And popular shows, such as The History Channel’s Top Shots, have helped to showcase how much fun shooting can be; as a result, Sanetti says, ‘President Barack Obama can certainly be credited with some of the increase in gun sales. His Supreme Court nominees have been anti-gun and his administration has been hostile to the rights of law-abiding gun owners. And anti-gun activist Sarah Brady did stoke this fear when she was quoted in the Washington Post saying President Obama told her he’s working on gun control ‘under the radar.’
‘However, there is a lot more to it than a president scaring the public,’ says Sanetti.
Sanetti explained that in 1959 some 70 percent of the American public favored handgun bans, whereas today that number has flipped. ‘We’ve been able to conclusively prove scientifically that, as John Lott wrote, more guns do equal less crime. Other factors include the fact that the number of hunters has actually risen in a number of states. Then you have returning servicemen and women who are staying with the shooting sports. Meanwhile, the advocacy of the NSSF, the NRA and other groups have shown that the Second Amendment is a fundamental part of our freedom.
As we enter the last laps of the 2012 presidential race, we find ourselves drowning in irony, but no irony is greater or more delicious than the fact that Mr. Obama will not acknowledge his greatest economic success: the explosive (yes, that’s a pun) growth of the firearm industry. There is, however, a decidedly non-humorous lesson in this, not only for gun owners, but for all Americans.
One would think Mr. Obama, or any politician in his position, would be desperate indeed for economic good news, particularly after the disastrous jobs report of July 6. But Mr. Obama, above all, is a dedicated statist/Marxist whose motivating impulses include depriving all citizens of arms, for an armed citizenry cannot be allowed to exist if statism is to ultimately prevail. Even a man as increasingly desperate as Mr. Obama will not abandon this particular core belief.
I suspect that the upward trend in firearm ownership will continue—to a lesser degree—even if Mr. Obama is denied a second term. Far too many Americans now understand, in a visceral way, the importance of the Second Amendment, and far too many have experienced the positive benefits of firearm ownership for that trend to be quickly reversed. But the mere existence of the trend is, once again, proof that during the administration of the most anti-gun, anti-freedom president in American history, the universe has a distinctly ironic sense of humor.
Oh yes, and zombie ammunition is the probably the second best proof.
Mike’s Home blog is Stately McDaniel Manor.