Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Gun Bubble Has Burst

Do you remember the massive rush on guns and ammo? 

Who could forget?  After the Sandy Hook shooting, the NRA whipped gun owners into a frenzy of fear that assault weapons, and guns in general, would be banned and confiscated.  Their followers immediately ran out and purchased all the ammo and rifles they could manage to afford.  In many places, guns and ammo couldn’t be stocked fast enough.  AR-15’s were the hottest items, since they were the item of most loathing of anyone who was shocked at how many children had been killed so quickly.   Gun manufacturers made record profits.

The NRA made sure to blame President Obama as the figure most responsible for the firearms confiscations that were sure to be just around the corner, and the NRA followers responded amazingly.  As I blogged about a little over a year ago, the sales of these guns and ammo weren’t to new owners, but rather already-existing gun owners, for the most part, as the percentage of homes with guns continues to fall, and factors such as less interest in hunting and competition for interest in younger generations are making guns less appealing of a market.  In other words, gun owners are becoming a minority

When the gun guys wound up buying up all the available ammo, guess who they blamed for the problem?  That’s right, they blamed President Obama.  It’s a government conspiracy to buy up and stockpile the ammo, in order to drive up prices!  Another pro-gun conspiracy theory had it that government agencies were buying up the ammo in order to declare martial law and take away gun rights!  Of course, none of the gun guys pointed their fingers at the real source of the ammo and gun shortage:  themselves, for buying them, or the weapons manufacturers, who controlled the production.

When the gun ban and confiscation boogeyman didn’t materialize, the NRA was quick with another conspiracy theory:  in their twisted mind, the LACK of a ban and Obama's lack of action was evidence that a ban would be coming and that the Second Amendment was under attack.  (Don’t you love how Obama is always the focus of pro-gun conspiracy theories?).

Flash-forward to today.  Gun owners have bought all they can afford, and the market is once again saturated.  Ammo can be used up, but guns sold these days are most likely to outlive their owners.   Yes, some people with a real fetish for them will continue to build their own personal arsenal, but most gun owners don’t care to waste their money on it, just to titillate their trigger fingers.

As the Huffington Post recently reported, gun owners aren’t as worried about the old NRA line about the government banning all guns or confiscating them. 
After a year and a half of stockpiling weapons and ammunition, a buying binge that sent gun company stocks soaring, weapons enthusiasts seem to have realized that President Barack Obama and his allies in Congress are not, in fact, going to take away their guns.   …. 
But even the most paranoid gun buyers are starting to understand that Washington will be unable to do anything anytime soon to stem the flow of school shootings -- of which there have been 74 since Sandy Hook.
According to a CNN article:

After that [Sandy Hook] shooting, demand got crazy, said John Reids, owner of JT Reids Gun Shop in Auburn, Maine. "We couldn't keep up with it."
Reids had to hire extra workers to handle the sales spike. Guns were sold as soon as they arrived from the distributors.
Now, assault rifles are available for as little as $375 at some of the top online gun retailers like and
"Nearly all firearms have returned to prices seen prior to the Sandy Hook tragedy," said Dennis Pratte, owner of My Gun Factory, a store in Falls Church, Virginia. At the time, he recalls, customers were calling about assault rifles "every 10 seconds." ....
"I believe what happened is that everybody who wanted to buy one did," said Fernwood Firearms' John Kielbasa. "Now it's a buyer's market."
And now, after the gun bubble has burst, stocks for the gun manufacturers are sliding:

In its financial report released last Thursday, Smith & Wesson reported a 4.6 percent decline in profits for its fourth quarter, compared to last year. The company is also predicting lower demand for the coming year.
According to, financial analysts think that fears of tighter gun legislation have stalled, which is leading to fewer people buying guns. 
"Demand for modern sporting rifles has fallen off significantly following the post-Newton [sic] legislation-driven demand and the ensuing post-surge period," said Chris Krueger, an analyst at Lake Street Capital Markets, in a note to clients. "Long gun sales will decline about 25 percent in FY2015 and become a smaller percentage of Smith & Wesson's sales." 
Dean Lockwood, a weapons systems analyst at the market research firm Forecast International, told The Huffington Post that gun owners "have gotten over the panic buying stage and are back to a more normal level."

Now, gun stores are losing sales.  Those who invested heavily during the boom are now about to go bust.  Consider the case of one Texas gun store, in the little town of Katy.  Tactical Firearms now faces foreclosure as a result.  But instead of blaming themselves for poor management, or trying to appeal to their customers, they blame it on, of course, President Obama:
Tactical Firearms, the Katy gun store known for its snarky marquees that mock everything from President Obama to gun control could soon be out of ammo and out of business.
“Right now our second amendment is under attack,” said Jeremy Alcede, co-owner of Tactical Firearms. 
Their latest marquee claims Obama and Icon Bank are “trying to end them” on July 1st.
“We’ll lose everything, 150 people will be affected,” said Alcede. “They count on this job, we’re one big family.” 
Icon Bank is set to foreclose on Tactical Firearms next week. The bank said the gun store’s loan is in default, but the gun shop said this is about politics. ....
 But KHOU learned of a new twist. Alcede, the same man accepting donations online is being sued by his business partner Coe Wilson for allegedly taking money from the business an using it for personal purchases like a Caribbean vacation and jewelry. 
“He’s blamed the President of all people for his problems, when he should be blaming himself,” said Richard Nguyen, who represents Coe Wilson. “Jeremy has mismanaged funds to the detriment of the company.” 
Tactical Firearms denied the allegations.

Hmmm….. allegations of mismanagement and poor financial conduct.  But, but…. Obama!  Second Amendment!

Hey, gun guys, instead of blaming President Obama, how about putting the blame where it really lies:  a runaway problem of gun violence and a culture that places more value on gun rights and gun sales than on protecting the welfare of our people.  We as a nation need to stop drinking the NRA Kool-Aid and wake up to the need for commonsense gun regulation.  100,000 shootings a year, with 32,000 deaths, are too many to ignore!

ADDENDUM:  Another blogger sums it up pretty well:
Bud buys a handgun, as his paranoid friend Ted tells him "Obama is going to take away all our guns!".   And Ted says that spending Saturday afternoon at the range is "a lot of fun".   So Bud buys a handgun and ammunition at the local gun shop and spends a few weekends with Ted at the range.   At first it seems like fun and all, meeting new friends, and the thrill of firing a weapon.
But eventually, the thrill fades, and the cost of ammunition (inflated by the "shortage") starts to spoil the thrill a bit.   And Bud starts to realize that Ted has a lot of scary friends, and moreover, he has better things to do with his money.   So the Buds of the world lose interest, over time, and eventually, Bud decides to sell his handgun on Craigslist, as he needs the money.
I know a few Buds, personally.   Heck, there is a little Bud in all of us - latching on to the latest trendy fad, if just as a dilettante, before moving on to the next trendy thing.   The golf clubs in my garage attest to that.  I've been meaning to get out on the course (we only have four here on the island) but it seems something always comes up.   And suddenly four years go by, with no golfing...