“The report of my death was an exaggeration,” Mark Twain wrote in 1897 in response to a newspaper publishing the humorist’s death. The same can be said for the state of the firearm industry in the U.S. An article published in the March 20th Washington Free Beacon put the state of the industry in perspective.
“While business is lower than in the corresponding months during record 2013 and 2016 calendar years, it is still quite good on a historic basis. The floor has been raised after a decade-long, generally upward trend in sales.”
Let’s face it, Barak Obama was the greatest gun salesman in history and Hillary Clinton would surely have surpassed the Great Divider had she been elected the 45th President of the United States but she wasn’t.
Going into the 2016 election, paranoia ran rampant within the firearm community causing people to buy up firearms and ammunition at an unprecedented rate. The fact is Obama and Clinton were so good at selling their plan to disarm Americans that their anti-gun dogma became one of the most powerful forces for turning out the pro-Second Amendment conservative vote.
Post-election there was a collective sigh and pause within the industry. The media, never a friend of the Second Amendment, seized the opportunity to characterize the decline in background checks as a major downturn for the industry.
CNN, for instance, touted “Gun sales are stuck in a Trump slump.” It was bolstered by Remington’s layoffs and Gander Mountain filing for bankruptcy but overall there are clear signs that while market exuberance may have been exaggerated by fear of massive gun control schemes prior to the election, post-election John Q. Public’s interest is still far better than even a few years ago.
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) helps determine if a prospective firearm buyers’ name and birth year match those of a person who is not eligible to buy a firearm. It represents a close approximation to gun sales. Comparing January and February statistics over a number of years tells the tale. January/February NICS checks for 2014 were 1.6 and 2.1 million respectively, 2015 was 1.8/1.9, 2016 was 2.5/2.6 and 2017 was 2.0/2.2.
I think it is reasonable to assume once Trump was elected there was significant relief and the idea of a total gun confiscation program was taken off the table. As a result gun sales dipped somewhat but February NICS checks still hit over 2.2 million last month representing about a ten percent increase over January.
Yet another good indicator of the health of the industry was evident in January at the 39th Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show owned and operated by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The 65,000 upbeat buyers and sellers at this year’s SHOT Show surpassed last year’s attendance making it the second most attended SHOT Show ever.
Closer to home, as president of the Aurora Sportsmen’s Club in Waterman, Illinois, I am seeing a stunning acceleration in the new member growth rate. ASC is a 268 acre, 2,000+ member private shooting club that offers just about every pistol, rifle and shotgun shooting event imaginable. We recruit and take in new members every month. In the first two months of 2015 we took in 59 new members, during that same time period in 2016 we admitted 73 new members and the first two months of 2017 we took in 138.
As always, the press does its best to cast a pallor over anything Second Amendment but it’s just more liberal fake news. Yes, there are some fluctuations within the industry but overall John Q is as active as ever in the shooting community for several good reasons.
The fear of “common sense gun control like Australia” is behind us, we have a White House and Congress that has already demonstrated a very pro-Second Amendment agenda, and it is almost a slam-dunk that we’ll see the appointment of a strong Second Amendment Supreme Court Justice. It won’t stop the anti-Second Amendment cabal from making our lives as miserable as possible or prevent the press from distorting the truth about law abiding firearm owners, but for the first time in eight years we are on strong footing and the media can just go stuff it.