by Chuck Drury
There has been one very bright spot in the business picture this last year. That is gun and ammunition sales, which have skyrocketed, in recent months. Gun sales on the most recent Black Friday exceeded the previous record by more than 30 percent. The FBI reports that the number of background checks for gun purchases on that day were almost 130,000. The previous one-day record was 97,848 on Black Friday in 2008. Gun manufacturer Sturm, Ruger & Company has orders for twice as many guns as it can make.
Annual U.S. gun transactions in 2011 were up by 14.4 percent over 2010. It was up 33.5 percent over 2007. December 2011 marked the 19th consecutive month of increase when compared to the same period of the previous year.
Anoka ammunition manufacturer Federal Cartridge has also been a major beneficiary with increased ammunition sales. The demand was so great at one time that the factory had to run around the clock seven days a week. The company still could not make enough for its customers. I had to buy some Russian 9mm-pistol cartridges for target practice a while back because there was no American made ammunition in the local stores.
Gun buyers are an increasingly diverse group. There now are many more young professionals, parents and women. Many of these are people that are getting their state right-to-carry handgun permits for self-protection. The majority of states now allow law-abiding citizens who meet established criteria and training to carry a concealed handgun.
According to a Jan. 6, 2012 Washington Times article by Senior Editor Richard Diamond, the demand for guns and ammunition also took a big jump due to the election of President Barack Obama. Many other sources also attribute the president’s past anti-gun positions as the driving force behind recent high gun sales. There is concern that the current U. S. administration has indicated support for the United Nations draft Arms Trade Treaty that is scheduled for release in 2012. This could have a significant adverse impact on the second amendment gun rights of Americans if adopted. The U.S. is the most heavily armed country in the world. A 2007 study reported that we had 90 guns for every 100 citizens. The next highest was Yemen with 61. This is good.
I will always remember the words attributed to Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. He was quoted as saying, “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass.” He understood America well, as he was a graduate of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy and also an alumnus of the U.S. Naval War College and Harvard University.
One significant result is that more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens tend to reduce crime. While the number carrying firearms is at an all-time high, the violent crime rate is at a 37-year low. A Sept. 19, 2011 Washington Times article reported that violent crime dropped 6 percent in 2010 alone.
The murder rate in the District of Columbia dropped by an astounding 25 percent in 2009. This was after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the city’s handgun ban and gunlock requirements in 2008. Much of this drop has been attributed to the fact that criminals feared the possibility of facing an unlocked and loaded weapon. All too often, gun control laws disarm law-abiding citizens and not criminals. Police do a good job, but invariably they arrive after the crime is committed.
Dr. John R. Lott Jr. has done an extensive analysis of gun laws and violent crime data from all 3,054 counties in the U.S. This is covered in detail in his book “More Guns Less Crime.”
One of his most significant findings is that states that have the largest increase in gun ownership have the largest drops in violent crimes. For each additional year that a state right-to-carry handgun law is in effect the murder rate declines by 3 percent, rape by 2 percent and robberies by 2 percent. Ninety percent of adult murderers had criminal records. The type of person who obtains a carry permit is extremely law abiding and safety conscious. More information can be found online about Lott’s research.
Most states now have some form of concealed handgun carry law because of the increasing proof of reducing crime. Minnesota requires classroom training on the legal aspects of pistol possession, self-defense and the use of deadly force. It also requires training in the safe handling and shooting a pistol on the range. The local sheriff is responsible for doing a background check and issuing of the permit. The permit is good for five years.
Regardless of the reasons, many more people are buying and shooting guns in recent years. Gun sales have been setting records. Record ammunition sales have been good for our local Federal Cartridge ammunition business. As a matter of disclosure, I spent much of my working career as an employee of the company.
Chuck Drury is an Anoka resident, retired engineer and former technical director of Federal Cartridge Company. He currently owns a consulting firm in explosives and ammunition research and development, safety, testing and manufacturing.