Gun control advocates routinely call for banning some category of firearm or another. For a long time, it was handguns. That ship has long since sailed, though, and now gun bans are focused on so-called assault weapons.
The idea is that if you ban a gun, law-abiding citizens won’t have them and somehow that will keep criminals from having them, too.
No, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me either.
But it seems that gun bans do one thing that should surprise no one. They make gun sales go through the roof.
The sales of firearms, especially AR-15-style rifles, unexpectedly turned up last month, apparently driven by efforts in several states to impose gun bans.
Industry officials reviewing the latest FBI background check information said that states planning gun bans or moving to change the rules governing firearms purchases saw massive jumps in April sales.
In Washington state, where the governor just signed a law banning the sale or transfer of AR-style rifles, background checks for April sales surged to 71,272 compared to 49,641 in April 2022, a 43.6% increase, said Mark Oliva, the spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
The industry trade group found a surge in Illinois, where it recently won a federal court decision to block a ban on modern sporting rifles. There, Oliva said, sales background checks increased 11.7% in April.
Ditto in Oregon, he said: “Oregon, a state with a legislature and governor’s office hostile to lawful firearm ownership, totaled 43,574 adjusted background checks in April 2023, compared to 27,921 a year ago, representing a 56.1% increase.”
That’s thoroughly unsurprising.
After all, the AR-15 is the most popular rifle in the country, but prior to the 1994 Assault Weapon Ban, it wasn’t really all that big of a deal.
People started buying them because the anti-gunners wanted to ban them.
Gun bans do a couple of things to drive up sales. First, there are those who simply don’t like being told they can’t have something, so they buy them out of spite.
Then you have people who kind of wanted one but delayed because there was always time. When you start looking at a gun ban, though, it creates urgency. That urgency sends people to the gun store to buy the forbidden firearm while they still can.
As a result, the bans put more guns in private hands than if they’d just kept quiet.
Further, in their zealousness to demonize the firearms, they often either highlight the benefits of the guns or overstate their capabilities, providing marketing that the gun companies simply couldn’t manage.
Hell, take a look at the “ghost gun” hysteria for a moment.
You’ve been able to buy kits for firearms for decades. I bought my first receiver kit 15 or more years ago and it wasn’t exactly a new concept then. Yet the bad guys weren’t making guns at any appreciable rate.
Then the politicians and the media got onto what was going on and started freaking out. News reports abounded, drawing attention to the fact that this was a thing, then guess what? Bad guys started making their own guns.
Every time a politician opens their mouth about firearms, it increases interest in that firearm.
So yeah, gun bans drive sales. That’s not shocking, but it’s worth remembering going forward.