March 31st, 2009

Captain Obvious

Human nature 101: outlaw something, and suddenly it becomes twice as valuable.

If President Obama has stimulated anything in America, it is demand for guns and ammunition. According to Rich Wyatt, the voluble and intense owner of Gunsmoke - a firearms shop and training facility just outside Denver - "If I had known it would be this good in the gun business, I might have voted for Obama." It’s not just a couple of stores seeing a run on guns and even more so on ammunition. From local gun shops to WalMart to sporting goods stores, the story is the same: When the store gets a shipment of ammo, particularly .45, 9mm, and .38 handgun ammunition, "people come in and they buy it all."

The manager of a local gun shop where I’ve been a customer told me that business has doubled since the election. Whereas the typical first time buyer pre-election had generally been a 30- or 40-something male, first time gun buyers now include more younger people, older people, and women than in the past. "They’re buying semi-automatic pistols and shotguns for home defense, as well as ‘concealed weapons’. There’s also a strong interest in ‘black guns’," military-style rifles, both from people who want to buy them "because they can" as well as others who believe they’ll be able to sell them at higher prices someday soon. Where politics was rarely mentioned during a gun purchase a year ago, the store manager says at least 60% of his customers mention the Obama administration now.