BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — In recognition of the unprece*dented demand for firearms by nervous consumers, The Outdoor Wire, the nation’s largest daily electronic news service for the outdoor industry, has named President-elect Barack Obama its “Gun Salesman of the Year”. With the selection, Outdoor Wire publisher Jim Shepherd says it is time the firearms industry recognizes the fact that without President-elect Obama’s frightening consumers into action, the firearms industry might be suffering the same sort of business slumps that have befallen the automotive and housing industries.
“It’s credit where credit is due,” says Shepherd, “Mr. Obama has consistently voted against individual rights to firearms, appointed a re-tread Clinton administration full of gun banners, and made it plain to anti-gun groups that despite what he might say to the contrary, he’s on their side.” That history, along with the unquestioned support of anti-gun organizations, Shepherd says, has spooked consumers into a buying frenzy for firearms that could be outlawed in another Assault Weapons Ban.
“Manufacturers are months behind on orders for semi-automatic pistols, AR-style rifles, and anything with so-called ‘high-capacity magazines’,” Shepherd says, “buyers we’ve surveyed across the country seem to have a single explanation for their rush to purchase firearms – Obama.”
“The buying panic is not limited to people you might be described as aficionados or even ‘gun nuts’. Recently, I was in a gun store when a gentleman came and said he’d never wanted to own a gun before, but wanted to get one while he still could.”
Since the November Presidential election, firearms sales have been at unprecedented levels. For December 2008 the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) recorded a twenty-four percent increase in background checks for 2008 (1,523,426) over December 2007 (1,230,525).
This follows a forty-two percent (42%) increase in November 2008, the highest number of NICS checks in the system’s history. Those FBI background checks are required under federal law for all individuals purchasing firearms from federally licensed firearms retailers. In other words, gun sales have never been better.
Sales are so good that on Tuesday, January 6, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) issued a notice to all federal firearms licensees that “an unprecedented increase in demand for ATF Form 4473” had run supplies low enough that dealers were temporarily given permission to photocopy the form until supplies caught up with demand. Completion of a form 4473 is required whenever a federal firearms licensee sells a fire*arm.*
As a journalist with more than two decades of national newsgathering experience, Shepherd says he’s never seen anything approaching what he calls the “Obama effect”. In fact, Shepherd says, gun and ammunition sales are at such frantic levels that they have surpassed the panic-buying of Y2K or anything during the Clinton years when the first Assault Weapons Ban was passed. This time, he says, concerned consumers are buying guns and ammunition in anticipation of Obama Administration actions to prohibit certain types of firearms.
“In 1999, the fear was that computers would shut down, crippling the world,” Shepherd says, “Those fears were unfounded. I don’t think the fears of an Obama administration banning guns are unfounded. His record speaks for itself. He’s never failed to support an anti-gun measure, despite saying he supports the Second Amendment.”
According to Shepherd, moves to prohibit firearms sales would drastically impact a billion-dollar industry that is not only healthy, but pours more than one hundred fifty million dollars annually into conservation programs through an eleven percent tax collected on guns and ammo.
“The Pittman-Robertson Act provides the vast majority of funding for wildlife agencies at the federal, state and local levels,” says Shepherd, “and that money comes directly from the tax levied against gun owners. Damaging the firearms industry won’t just put workers in the gun business out of work, it will severely impact wildlife and conservation efforts nationally. That damage could take decades to repair – if it can be undone.”
Choosing President-elect Obama as the Gun Salesman of the Year, says Shepherd, is a lot like a good-news, bad-news joke. “His election has driven gun sales into the stratosphere,” Shepherd says, “but his opposition to guns and gun ownership may be the biggest threat the industry has ever faced. If he puts scoring political points with anti-gun groups ahead of economic realities, he will be deliberately putting thousands of people out of work. I don’t see that as an economic stimulus plan with much of a future.”
“Today, however, the facts are indisputable,” Shepherd says, “Barack Obama has spurred gun sales in a time when the entire economy seems to be tanking. If that doesn’t make him the gun salesman of the year – if not the decade – I don’t know what would.”