It’s Not Just The Supply Of Guns That Creates Gun Violence – It’s Also The Demand.

              All of a sudden, after wandering in the wilderness for lo, these many years, it appears that the lost gun-control tribes may finally reach the Promised Land and get a gun bill passed through Congress and signed by a Democratic President in 2021. Of course, this chain of events assumes that Sleazy Don will continue to lag behind in crucial swing states (OH, PA) and that the blue team doesn’t screw everything up by nominating another version of the person who ran the single, worst national campaign of all time in 2016.

              Nevertheless, I’m willing to take the short odds on the possibility that what I am predicting might come true, which leads to the most important question, namely, what kind of gun bill should be passed? And if nothing else, what seems to be the consensus among all the men and women who want to quarterback the blue team, is that the bill should expand background checks to secondary transfers and sales.

              The reasons behind this consensus have to do with two things: 1) everybody, even gun owners, seem to support some kind of expansion of FBI-NICS; and 2) if all gun transfers must be qualified before they take place, it stands to reason that less guns will end up in the ‘wrong hands.’ After all, even the NRA has always made common cause with ‘law-abiding’ gun owners, right?

              Unfortunately, the research standing behind any and all attempts to regulate gun ownership through legal means fails to come to grips with one, very important thing. And this is the fact that none of the studies which examine the degree to which gun laws work or don’t work to reduce gun violence ever take into account one, fundamental issue, namely, the issue of demand.

Whether we like it or not, the events which constitute at least three-quarters or more of every instance of gun violence every year; i.e., fatal and non-fatal gun assaults, reflect an ongoing retail market for this particular product, even if it’s a retail environment quite unlike the local gun store. And while our friend Phil Cook and others have studied this market in terms of product pricing and product supply, the possibility that this market could be somehow controlled by more stringent laws governing legal gun access and ownership, flies in the face of every such governmental effort when confronted with unabated product demand.

The War on Terror has only been going on since 2001, but the War on Drugs was announced by Nixon in 1971. How much money, time, effort and legislative activity has been expended to reduce illegal drug trafficking over the past fifty(!) years? And whatever the answer, what we have gotten is another drug epidemic called ‘opioids.’ And is it just coincidence that as opioids appear to be increasingly common, that the rate of gun violence appears to be going back up?

Last week, with the usual 48-hour brouhaha which always accompanies another aimless rant by John Donahue against John Lott, the Stanford economist once again tried to tell us why we have a crisis called ‘gun violence’ without so much as mentioning or even acknowledging the issue of demand. And as an economist, not a public health researcher, Donahue should know better than that. But why bother to bring the most obvious and necessary issue to bear when discussing how and why guns get into the ‘wrong’ hands?

I can’t read a single issue of a gun-control news aggregator like The Trace without seeing at least one article bemoaning the failure of gun regulations to cover the myriad ways in which guns move from the ‘legal’ to the ‘illegal’ milieu. Which is why everyone in Gun-control Nation is touting the idea of comprehensive background checks (CBC) as the first and most obvious method for reducing the violence caused by guns.

So let me break it to you gently. Unless a way is found to reduce the demand for illegal guns, I guarantee you that the market will find a way to negate the impact of CBC. Guaranteed.

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Is America’s Love Affair With Guns Coming To An End?

              I have been connected to the gun business one way or another for more than sixty years, and for the very first time I am seeing something about the business that I have never seen before. What I am talking about is the fact that the latest release of background-check data from the FBI, the numbers for February, confirm that so far the sales slump which followed the inauguration of Sleazebag Trump has continued well past the 2018 election which brought about an abrupt change in gun politics on Capitol Hill.

              The very first thing that the new Democratic majority did (or maybe it was the second thing) after the 116th Congress convened on January 3rd was to pass H.R. 8, calling for universal background checks on the transfer of all guns. This was followed at the end of February with another bill extending the time for the FBI to complete a background check from 3 up to 20 days, Now the fact that neither of those bills will probably get through the Senate, and even if they do, will probably languish unsigned on Sleazy Don’s desk doesn’t alter a new political dynamic that has clearly emerged, namely, that gun control as a viable point of political discussion has once again reared its ugly  head.

              Now you would think that these developments would do for the gun industry what such developments have always done in  the past, which is to say, provoke a mad rush into gun stores to clean off the shelves before the dreaded government comes along and gets rid of all the guns. And despite what the ‘experts’ told a Congressional hearing last week (they weren’t under oath so they couldn’t be accused of lying to Congress), if you implement universal background checks for all gun transfers, sooner or later you wind up with total gun registration. And we all know what happens when the government can identify everyone who owns a gun, right?

              So how come gun sales continue to slide into the toilet, no matter how busy the gun-grabbers seem to be?  At the end of August last year, Smith & Wesson stock was selling for less than $10 a share. It closed at $13.60 the day of the election, it’s now drifting back down to under ten bucks. Before all the votes came in, the market was anticipating the possibility that the political return of the tree-huggers would produce a new surge in buying guns. The market has turned out to be wrong.

              We need to wait another couple of months before proclaiming the great de-coupling of fear and demand as the driver for the purchase and ownership of guns. But if things keep going the way they are currently going, from the perspective of America’s love affair with firearms, a new age may have definitely dawned.  There’s a website out there which sells ammunition delivered direct to your door. Right now they are advertising 500 rounds of the best, 22LR ammo on the market for $16.99.  I remember when you couldn’t find any 22LR ammunition because of the hoarding and over-consumption which occurred during the heady Obama days. The ammo is now so cheap that they can’t even give it away. And nothing is a more accurate barometer of the state of the gun market than the cost of 22LR.

              The one thing we continue to get from various public-opinion surveys is that the percentage of Americans who own guns hasn’t really increased; it’s more likely that the average gun owner now owns more guns. But at some point, even most of the die-hard gun nuts just can’t find the space, or the money, or simply the interest to go out and buy another gun. Remember when every kitchen had something called a Mixmaster? Maybe some day my grandchildren will visit the Smithsonian and walk past an exhibition of ‘vintage’ guns. I can just hear one of them saying, “Didn’t Grandpa used to own those things?”