It has become an article of some derision and irony among gun owners that Barack Obama is the greatest inadvertent gun and ammunition salesman of all time. His success, which he surely does not want to be a part of his legacy, has inspired a new appreciation for the Second Amendment, and caused huge numbers of people that would never have thought to buy a gun to become first time firearm owners.
Mr. Obama’s unwanted success had to do with more than his well-known antipathy toward gun ownership and gun owners. The Sandy Hook Elementary School attack did not occur until December 14, 2012, at the end of his first term in office. While his anti-liberty beliefs were clear long before he was first elected President, he did not announce a concerted anti-gun effort until the Sandy Hook attack provided political cover.
Gun and ammunition shortages began long before then, and have continued, in various ways, only somewhat abated. It would appear that more than public knowledge of the anti-gun intentions of a specific politician or politicians is required to provoke a run on guns and ammo, and a sea change in public beliefs and habits. Even specific anti-gun legislation is apparently not sufficient.
What, then, did cause the Age of Obama gun and ammunition shortages, and can we expect more in the future? Are we, with the upcoming presidential election, about to experience another run on guns and ammo, another seller’s market, when dealers have something to sell?
Barack Obama fundamentally changed American’s expectations of their government in ways large and small. To be sure, Americans expect him to lie about matters great and small, even when the truth would better serve him. But many politicians do this. The most fundamental change attributable to Mr. Obama is the near destruction of the rule of law. All presidents have, in one way or another, stretched the law and usurped the authority of the other branches of government, but none with the wild and arrogant abandon of Mr. Obama. His political weaponization of the IRS, the EPA, and the Department of Justice, among other federal agencies, has convinced Americans that they can no longer trust the government, and not just in the abstract. Americans now have no doubt that the government could easily pursue them without cause merely for the expression of their political beliefs or the exercise of fundamental rights.
Mr. Obama’s bypassing of the Congress with the Iran deal, and innumerable executive orders have convinced Americans that no one’s life, liberty and property are safe. Promising to heal the nation’s racial wounds—small though they were after a half-century of concerted effort and progress—as a candidate, as president Mr. Obama has done more damage to racial harmony than anyone could imagine. The Obama and DOJ campaign against the police has not only changed public opinions about the police, but has resulted in the Ferguson Effect: police officers, particularly in urban areas, doing only the bare minimum necessary to do their jobs, and avoiding contact with the most obvious criminal elements.
Mr. Obama long ago stopped so much as pretending to obey the Constitution, mouthing such charming and healing platitudes as “I won,” “elections have consequences,” and “I have a pen and a phone.” So long as 1/3 of Congress upholds his vetoes and the House of Representatives won’t exercise its power of the purse or impeach him, he is the Monarch of the former America, able to do whatever he wants. Americans know this well and abhor it.
Sometime during the magic Age of Obama, Americans began to believe, really believe, that having to fight the federal government to preserve their lives and liberty was not only possible, but might well become necessary. They came to understand that the political class no longer believes they are accountable to the people, but are the people’s masters, and are becoming increasingly arrogant and vicious in asserting their power.
And then there is the complete abandonment of American immigration laws. Americans realized that not only are a significant portion of illegal immigrants criminals, and a smaller portion, terrorists, the wide open borders are intended to throw the American people out of office—so to speak—and elect in their place a new American people, American in name only, who will forever vote to keep the political class in power in return for never having to assimilate and for remaining on American soil and partaking in the benefits of citizenship as long as they wish.
Is there any wonder Americans began buying up arms and ammunition where and whenever they could find them?
With the abject failure of Mr. Obama’s post-Sandy Hook legislation, it became apparent that no new anti-gun legislation of any kind was likely. The 5/4 Supreme Court majority in favor of the Constitution and rule of law was holding, so the Second Amendment seemed temporarily safe.
It also became clear that outright hostilities against the federal government and the states, or the federal government and individual citizens, while still possible, were not imminent. The Obama Administration seemed content to achieve Obamacare and the Iran Deal, and to mostly rest on its laurels, while still trying to do mischief to the Constitution on the fringes, but Americans were so used to that kind of scandal and outrage, it provoked no additional alarm.
Prices for the most popular guns, like the AR-15 family, began to once again decrease to reasonable levels, and the supply of guns and particularly, ammunition, also increased to normal levels while prices sank to pre-panic levels, with one notable exception: .22LR ammunition of most kinds. In the last two years, I have been able to purchase a total of 500 rounds of .22LR ammunition via casual shopping at local stores: I stop by; if they have it, I buy it. Keep in mind I live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex, a gun friendly urban area. If I were desperate to buy .22LR at any price and description, I could surely have found more, but I decided to buy only that which I could once have expected to find by chance at any store that commonly sold ammunition. The prices were a little elevated, but not outrageous. Obviously, people are still hoarding .22LR when and wherever they can find it. All indications are the ammunition industry is running at full capacity, perhaps more, in producing .22LR, but demand is still outstripping supply, and there is no apparent trend that will soon reverse this.
Other common calibers such as 9mm, .45 ACP, .223/5.56, .308 and others are plentiful are can easily be found in quantity at reasonable prices, locally, and via Internet sources.
The election of a Democrat such as Hillary Clinton might not immediately see a tightening of the market, but as she has an anti-liberty past that rivals that of Barack Obama, and the fact she is actually running on an anti-gun platform in the primaries, suggests it would not take long before she would begin to make overt moves against the Second Amendment and law-abiding gun owners. She, and any Democrat—and not a few Republicans—would surely follow Mr. Obama’s precedent for lawlessness and the indiscriminate use of executive edicts.
One factor might change this calculation. If the FBI recommends indictment of Mrs. Clinton and her various advisors, and the Obama DOJ refuses, and Mrs. Clinton is elected president, a new day will have dawned. Americans will be able to reasonably believe that the rule of law in America is completely dead. A woman who knowingly betrayed national security, making our most important secrets readily available to anyone with hacking skills, will be POTUS. What law will be meaningful to her? Is there any law she would not willingly break, any fundamental, unalienable right she would not gladly violate?
The election of Donald Trump would likely be little different. Though Trump has proclaimed himself a supporter of the Second Amendment, he has no convincing history of Second Amendment support, and is a New Yorker through and through, as well as, until it was necessary to become a Republican to run, a Democrat.
Above all, Trump is for Trump, and tends to be petty, vindictive, and willing to do whatever is necessary to complete a deal in his favor, which suggests flexible principles, at best. Mr. Trump professes reverence for the Constitution, but it’s doubtful that he knows anything about it, and a virtual certainty he would ignore any portion of it that got in his way.
What would make a significant difference, and surely start a run on guns, ammunition and related accessories like none yet seen would be the appointment of a Leftist judge on the Supreme Court. By this I speak of a judge whose judicial philosophy embraces a “living Constitution,” which means the Constitution has no fixed, discernable meaning or application. It means whatever Progressive judges need it to mean to achieve progressive goals.
A Leftist judge replacing Justice Scalia would mean the end, sooner or later, of the Second Amendment. A solid leftist majority on the Court, say 6-3 or 6-2, which is entirely possible for the next president if a Democrat, could mean an outright elimination of the Second Amendment. However, even in that instance, it is more likely that the Supreme Court would simply rule that while the Second Amendment does speak to an individual right to keep and bear arms, there is no restriction on that right that would not pass constitutional muster. The Second Amendment would become a right on the yellowing paper of the original document only, having virtually no application in the lives of individual Americans.
Decisions of this kind would mean that America would return to a pre-Heller nation where some states—and the District of Columbia—retain an almost complete government monopoly on the ownership and carrying or arms, and where citizens have essentially no right to keep and bear arms enforceable against the federal government. State may not provide fewer or lesser rights than those acknowledged by the Federal Constitution, but may provide more. Many states would still fully recognize the rights of the Second Amendment, but citizens would venture into anti-gun states and areas at their own risk. Massive civil disobedience would be the order of the day.
It seems likely that as long as the current status quo holds, another massive run on guns and ammo is unlikely. However, with the political system in chaos, well-founded citizen distrust of government on the rise, America’s place in the world uncertain at best, declining trust in the ability of the police to properly function in an overly-politicized environment, and the ever-growing threat of terrorism, in large part ignored by the federal government, the importance of the Second Amendment to individual Americans is more urgent and obvious than ever before. It might not be a bad time for Americans to ensure they have the arms and ammunition they might reasonably need in bad times, which are increasingly easy to imagine.