Another Gun Expert On The Death Of The NRA.

              As a member of the National Rifle Association since 1955 and currently a Patriot Life Benefactor (whew!) Member, it pains me to consider the possibility that the power and influence of America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ may be coming to an end. At least this is what E. J.Dionne, an academic know-it-all, believes may soon occur.

              Here’s the announcement from atop Mount WaPo: “Taken together, the events of 2016 and the results of the 2018 election will be remembered as the beginning of the end of the gun lobby’s power.”

              As a former academic know-it-all, I would like to politely disagree. And I would like to disagree because Professor Dionne’s argument is based on information being produced, promoted and believed by individuals and organizations who would like the NRA to go the way of the dial telephone and the do-do bird; in other words, they simply don’t like guns.

              Dionne’s argument about the de-fanged NRA kicks off with the case of Maria Butina, the Russian poster-girl who is pleading guilty to the charge that she used her connections in the gun business to promote Russian governmental interests; i.e., she was an ‘agent’ for Russian political interests and part of the grand scheme to get Trump elected in 2016.

              What’s glossed over again and again in the Butina story is the fact that her handler,Alexander Torshin, happens to be a Board member of the bank which finances a company called Izhmash, which happens to manufacture the original AK-47 assault rifle, which happens to be the single, most popular gun sold anywhere in the world today. The Russian gun maker has been trying, so far without success, to bring the rifle into the American market. If they could pull it off, the deal would probably be worth at least $500 million in net profits.  Right now, an American gun nut who wants to own an AK-47 has to buy a gun slapped together with crummy, after-market parts from Rumania or some other place. The real-deal AK would easily sell 5 million units to Gun-nut Nation, and a markup of $100 bucks would still leave the sticker price in the affordable range.

              Since Professor Dionne writes about guns from time to time, perhaps he should spend a day at an NRA show to learn something about the business which he postures himself to be an expert on the pages of WaPo.  In fact, I’ll meet him at the 2019 show in Indianapolis, walk him around and introduce him to God knows how many overseas visitors who, just like Butina, have some kind of gun-related product they want to promote.  Know why Americans own at least 40% of the small arms floating around the globe?  Because we are the only country which has a retail gun market, okay? Professor Dionne can also chat with Wayne-o, who makes a point of stopping at the booth of every vendor to thank him for supporting the show. How do you think Maria Butina first met Wayne LaPierre?

              Dionne’s other argument about how the NRA’s power is waning is based on the fact that what the NRA put up as political contributions in 2018 was a substantial decrease from what they gave out in 2016, mostly having to do with the $30 million they handed to Donald Trump. But what Dionne doesn’t mention is that,on average, the NRA contributes less than 3% of the money which GOP office-holders spend on their campaigns.  Even the total amount that the NRA gave it’s A+-rated, House members in 2018 was less than this same bunch received in political donations from the American College of Emergency Physicians.

              What happened in the last election cycle is that national gun-control organizations like Brady and Everytown have been energized by the attention paid by the media to the kids from Parkland, whose national tours were basically the handiwork of a certain, former Mayor of New York City whose first name begins with M, not R. But something else about guns has been happening in the last several years which E. J. Dionne seems not to have noticed at all.

In 1990 and 1992,two remarkable scholars, Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara, published research which indisputably showed that access to a gun increased the risk of suicide and homicide in the home. Know how the average American reacted to this news? The  percentage of Americans who believe that a gun in the home is more of a benefit and less of a risk continues to go – up!  And given the fact that, at most, only 40% or less of American homes contain one or more legal guns, obviously there are lots of non-gun owners who also buy the NRA’s basic argument about the positives of owning a gun.

              If E. J. Dionne wants to inform us about the state of the gun business, maybe he would attempt to explain this remarkable case of cognitive dissonance, which is a much more important harbinger of the long-term health of the NRA. But the truth is that E. J. Dionne will stick with his usual bromides because his audience doesn’t like guns.

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The Gun Business Ain’t Gettin’ Any Better. In Fact, It’s Gettin’ Worse.

Once again I have the honor and pleasure of presenting to my reading audience the monthly portrait of the gun business as rendered by the background check data published by the FBI.  Believe it or not, the gun industry is the only consumer product industry whose health and welfare can be understood with reference to government-issued data which doesn’t lie. Because no matter how many guns are floating around, no matter how many gun transfers do or do not require  background checks, unless the gun makers can make and sell more guns, sooner or later it’s bye-bye guns. And since most gun shops try to keep the new-gun inventory as light as possible if only because the damn things cost so much, the overall number of new-gun transfers recorded on the background-check form (ATF4473) really gives a very accurate picture of what’s happening on the factory floors.

             And what’s happening is that the gun industry is in the dumps.  For October, the total number of completed 4473 forms covering gun transfers was 928,474.  A year ago, the October number was 1,056,548, a month-to-month drop of 12 percent.  Since the beginning of the year, handgun transfers have totalled 5,281,038.  Over the same period in the last year of the Obama regime, handgun transfers were 6,492,102. That’s a drop of nearly 20 percent.

The only problem with these numbers is that the 4473 form doesn’t distinguish between the transfer of new and used guns. But we can assume that the breakdown between new and used guns in most gun shops is somewhere around half and half. So if the entire retail gun segment has sold around 2,600,000 new guns this year, there’s a reason why the price of Smith & Wesson stock has dropped from $28 to $14 since 2016.

In 2013, the year following Sandy Hook when Obama tried (but failed) to pass a new gun law, the gun industry produced around 5 million handguns, which was the biggest single production year the industry ever had.  That same year, in rough numbers, the FBI processed 5,750,000 handgun background checks.  In other words, dealers cleaned their shelves.  Now here’s the real number to consider.  The population of the U.S. in 2013 was 316 million (give or take a couple of hundred thousand) the population at mid-2018 is estimated to be 327 million and change.

So here’s the bottom line. So far this year the number of new hand guns that entered the civilian arsenal was somewhere around 795 guns per 100,000 population; in 2013 that same number was 1,012.  In other words, the per-capita purchase of new hand guns since 2013 is down by more than 20 percent.

If you can find another consumer industry that can sustain itself over any period of time when its market drops by 20 percent, give me the name and I’ll short the stock.  What we have here folks, is a consumer industry whose market share is not only slowing down, but isn’t even keeping pace with the size of the potential market itself.  Because if the population of the U.S. goes up roughly 1 percent a year, no consumer industry will survive over the long term if the size of its market doesn’t at least increase by the same 1 percent. This isn’t rocket science, by the way, it’s simple business math.

All these numbers would be slightly less dismal had I looked not just at data on handguns but data covering all guns manufactured and sold. The reason I didn’t bother to break down sales of rifles and shotguns is that the gun industry has all put its product eggs into the handgun basket.  Now you can always pretend that an AR-15 is a personal defense weapon even if it happens to be a long gun. But walking around with a concealed weapon doesn’t mean that you can strap on an AR-15.

The joke in the gun business is that if you want to make a million, start with two million. It may not be a joke.

Want To Go Into The Gun Business? Now’s Not The Time.

There used to be a joke in the gun business which went like this: “Want to make a million in the gun business? Start with two million.”  Well, the FBI has just released the monthly NICS background-check numbers for September, and if things keep going the way they are going, the old joke will have to say that if you want to end up with a million bucks from guns, better start with three million, or even more.

business            Yea, yea, I know that FBI-NICS checks only count the initial sale of a gun, except that since most gun shops have an inventory which consists of at least 30% used guns, the background check number each month is a very good indicator of the overall trends within the gun industry. And lately, the trend has been going down.

September is a benchmark month for the gun business, because guns have never been able to compete with the beach.  The only reason I kept my gun shop open in July and August is because the air-conditioning system worked better in my store than it did at home. But come Labor Day, those boring beach vacations are over, the kids are back in school, the leaves in northern states are just beginning to turn, and the hunting season is in the air. And don’t for one moment believe that hunting is no longer a key activity for driving gun sales. Even if a majority of gun owners claim that their primary reason for having a gun is self-defense, there is still something about Fall weather that translates into an interest in guns.

My point is that September gun sales always show a significant increase compared to the prior month. But if we compare September background checks this year to background checks in the month of September in previous years, the decline of the industry becomes very clear.

The NICS checks cover four separate categories: handguns, long guns, ‘other’ guns and ‘multiple’ sales.  The first two categories are self-explanatory; ‘other’ guns refer usually refer to a receiver without a barrel, which is often how AR-15 rifle kits are sold – it’s still a gun because the receiver is serialized but it might be a handgun or a long gun, depending on what length barrel is then attached. Multiple guns means that the purchaser bought more than one gun; he could have bought two, he could have bought ten. In doing my numbers for this column, I’m assuming that ‘multiple’ equals two.

So here we go. Last month NICS background checks for gun transfers from dealers to customers totaled 869,636.  A year earlier the total was 957,597. Ready?  In 2016 the September number was 1,100,334. That’s a two-year drop of 20 percent.  Want to find the last year that September NICS numbers were under 900,000? You have to go back to 2011, which was before Sandy Hook put gun control on Obama’s brain.

Given the fact that I’m a yellow-dog Democrat what I am now going to say may sound like it shouldn’t be said, but from the point of view of reducing gun violence, I’m not sure that what we need in November is a blue wave. Because the truth is that unless the Hill goes blue and Sleazy Don decides to shove Wayne Lapierre under a bus in order to make a deal with the Democrats for something he really needs, I’m willing to bet that the slide in gun sales over the last two years may well continue at least until the next Presidential year, by which time NICS numbers could be almost half of what was registered during the Obama regime.

And when all is really said and done, you can talk about armed, self-defense and terrorism and all that other stuff, but an industry that is selling half as many products as it did ten years earlier, is an industry that will begin to look like…remember something called pay phones?

Can The Gun Business Recover From The Trump Slump? Elect Lizzie Warren in 2020.

On August 8, 2016, Smith & Wesson stock was selling at just under $30 bucks a share.  Yesterday, the stock closed at $9.39.  On August 8, 2016, investors paid around $13 for a share of New York Times stock.  This morning the stock opened at $23.  In the last two years, Smith & Wesson has dropped by two-thirds, the price of New York Times shares have gone up by almost 50%.

charQuestion: What accounts for such a radical difference in the performance of these two companies?

Answer: Donald Trump.

This past Saturday I walked into a nice, little gun shop in Vermont and bought 300 rounds of 22LR ammo which we use for running the gun-safety course in my shop. This wasn’t cheap stuff; this was the best 22LR ammo you can buy – CCI.  I paid 7 cents a round ($20 for a 300-round box) which is about half of what I paid for the same ammunition back when Smith & Wesson stock was selling for $30 a share.  Want to know how the gun business is doing? Just check the price of ammo.

If Hillary had done what she was supposed to do, namely, win in a landslide, I guarantee you that Smith & Wesson stock would now be selling for $50 a share and the price of New York Times stock would be somewhere around $5 or less.  Know why? Because Hillary would have gone out of her way in her inauguration speech to make a big deal out of gun control, if only because Gun-control Nation was one of the groups which went all out to try and get her moved back into the White House.

Would there have been a national walk-out after Parkland if Hillary’s campaign staff hadn’t run the worst and most inept Presidential campaign of all time? And anyone who doubts what I just said, btw, should ask themselves how she could have lost Michigan – Michigan! – by less than 11,000 votes. Would Lockton have stopped selling liability insurance to the boys in Fairfax if they hadn’t responded to mass shootings by trying to become the leading voice of the alt-right?

The problem facing Gun-nut Nation isn’t the existence of Trump in the Oval Office per se, it’s the fact that Trump has chosen again and again to communicate to his so-called ‘base’ in violent and incredibly stupid ways.  Remember what he said about Charlottesville, that there was ‘violence’ on both sides? There was only one little problem – the counter-protestors who showed up and marched against the Nazis and the Klan weren’t carrying AR-15s. And the fact that Trump didn’t understand how the ‘average’ American would react to seeing a gun-toting jerk with an assault rifle slung over his back shows how little understanding he really has about all those ‘average’ Americans whose interests he claims to represent.

For that matter, the NRA leadership appears not to have understood this as well. Over the last two years, they have produced some of the dumbest video messaging of all time, in particular the rants of Dana Loesch, who has tried to convince her audience that it’s the leftist elite which is responsible for violence against Trump, not the other way around. By the way, monthly visits to the NRA website since February, 2018 have dropped from 3.2 million to 860,000. So much for how Gun-nut Nation does such an effective social media job, right?

In July, 2016 the FBI conducted 1,143,824 background checks on gun transfers. Last month the same number was 739,968.  That’s not a drop in month-to-month sales, it’s a collapse. Frankly, I’m surprised that a share of Smith & Wesson stock is still worth $9 bucks. On the other hand, if the Congress turns blue in November, and Trump announces he’s out in 2020, and Lizzy Warren’s campaign starts to take on some steam, maybe buying some Smith & Wesson shares (NASDAQ: AOBC) isn’t such a bad idea….

 

 

Have Gun Sales Slowed Under Trump? Not As Much As You Might Think.

Back in February 2017, the first full month after Trump took the oath, the gun industry looked at sales numbers and began to complain.  On the one, Trump’s electoral surprise meant that gun makers didn’t have to worry about Hillary’s nefarious gun-control plans; on the other hand, with a pro-gun guy now running the show, fears about not being able to buy guys would subside and gun sales would also go down.

shows            And make no mistake about it, the heady days of the all-time gun-grabber Obama were now in the past. FBI-NICS background checks for February 2016 were 1,380,520 for all guns; background check numbers for February 2017 registered 1,199,692, a drop of 13%.  And between tax refunds, some cash for ploughing and a left-over bundle from X-mas gifts, February has always been a good month for buying guns.

But what about the rest of the year and the years to come?  There’s a reason why Smith & Wesson’s stock price was over $20 a share when Trump was inaugurated and is selling for around half that price right now.  The reason is the same reason that has always dominated the ups and downs of the gun market, namely, that most people who buy guns already own guns, and without new customers the sale of any consumer product will be largely influenced by whether current owners of that product believe they can continue to buy and own more of what they already have.

I have been in the gun business, one way or another, for more than 50 years. And I have never met a single gun owner who only owned one gun.  Maybe ‘never’ is too strong a word because there are certainly lots of households which contain a gun only because it belonged to grandpa and when he passed on, the gun represented some kind of family icon so nobody wanted to throw it out. But according to recent surveys, the average gun owner has 3 or 4 bangers lying round the house, and somewhere around 7 million gun nuts own, on average, 17 guns each. Right now I personally have somewhere around 60 guns within easy reach, which I don’t think is ant big deal.  I knew a guy whose house contained at least 300 guns and I suspect that by now he’s added maybe 50 more.

Why in God’s name would I need to own 60 guns?  You think my wife doesn’t own at least 50 pairs of shoes?  But a gun isn’t like a pair of shoes, right?  You can’t kill someone with a shoe.  So what.  What’s one thing got to do with the other?  Nothing, that’s what. Anyway, to get back to the gun business.

Using FBI-NICS checks as a proxy, gun sales in 2018 are running about 13% below 2017. There was a spike shortly after Las Vegas, which pushed up 2017 numbers, and another spike after Parkland, which did the same thing for 2018.  But this graph showing monthly background checks for handguns clearly indicates that the Trump bloom is off the Obama rose.

NICS handguns

              On the other hand, more than 3,750,000 handguns have moved between dealers and customers from January 1, 2017 through June 30 of this year, and if the estimates on the number of Americans who own guns is correct, then it may be the case that one out of every ten gun owners added an additional handgun to their collections over the past 18 months.

The point is that even though the gun industry depends for its existence on the same group of buyers buying more guns, the good news is that, by and large, gun owners still want to keep, own and buy guns. Which is why Gun-control Nation still has to figure out how to convince gun owners that they would be better off without their guns. Because as long as gun owners want their personal gun collections to get bigger, the gun industry will continue to sell guns.

The Gun Business Ain’t What It Used To Be.

Until Trump stuck his fat rear end on the chair behind the President’s Oval Office desk, the gun industry could count on three things: (1). a mass shooting from time to time; (2). a whine from Obama about how something had to be done; (3). an upsurge in gun sales. The only one of those three events which has continued into the so-called ‘administration’ of Trump is the first one. But neither Las Vegas, Parkland or Santa Fe has moved the gun sales needle to the right.  To the contrary, gun sales are not just down, they are staying down.

FBI              In May, total FBI-NICS checks were 1,983,346; the total for May 2017 was 1,898,840.  Hey – that’s not so bad, right?  Except for one little thing. The NICS phone bank isn’t just used for the over-the-counter transfer of guns from dealer to customer; it’s also used for license checks and re-checks, guns going in and out of pawn and private transactions between gun owners themselves. So the real number to watch each month is the percentage of monthly checks representing over-the-counter movement of guns, with the further caveat that as much as 40% of that number probably represents used guns.

Here: the bottom line: in May, for the first time since permit and license background checks were added to the monthly report (February 2016) the percentage of total checks for over-the-counter gun transfers dropped substantially below 50% of all calls to the FBI, and May-to-May transfer checks dropped from 926,516 to 841,583, down by roughly 10 percent.  Now let’s assume that of those 840,000 checks, perhaps 40% covered guns that had previously been sold and were now going out of gun shops as used guns.  Which means that the entire gun making industry moved less than 500,000 new guns into America’s private gun arsenal.

Now 500,000 guns isn’t exactly chopped liver, but when you consider that there are somewhere between 80 to 100-million gun owners throughout the United States, half a million guns isn’t such a big deal. And it’s certainly not a big enough deal to keep all those gun companies afloat who either started producing or expanded production during the heady days of the Obama regime. No wonder that Smith & Wesson’s stock has dropped from $30 to $12 dollars since the middle of 2016 and was actually down under $10 a share last month.  Ruger is doing better – during the same time-period its stock price has shrunk by 25 percent. But Ruger stock is closely held; they haven’t done what Smith did, i.e., rename the company to something called ‘Outdoor Brands’ with a subsequent price drop of the stock by only 50 percent.

By the way, for all the hot air and nonsense about Americans arming themselves because they can’t trust their government to provide for the common defense, the percentage of handgun background checks as a percentage of all gun background checks sits month after month at 60 percent. Now you would think that between Dana Loesch telling women that they should all be armed to Sean Hannity pimping for the United States Concealed Carry Association, that handgun sales would be bucking the downward sales trend. The whole notion of marketing concealed-carry is beginning to smell a little bit like the Edsel, if you know what I mean.

The gun industry has always had a basic problem, namely, that unless you like the noise and excitement of pulling the trigger and the thing goes – bang! – there’s simply no reason to own a gun. And worse, the damn things don’t wear out. So how does a consumer industry grow its profits when nobody really needs what they make plus the product’s obsolescence is fifty years or more? And into the bargain, we now have those fresh-faced high school kids popping up all over the place and saying that guns just aren’t hip or cool.

I think my gun shop is ready to be turned into a mini-mart.

guns for good guys  Buy it or read it on Amazon.

 

Does Either Side In The Gun Violence Debate Know Anything About Guns?

Nothing has been as joyfully received by Gun-nut Nation than the surge of gun-control activism following the Parkland massacre event. Because there’s nothing like a healthy and noisy opposition to get people interested again in buying guns. I’m willing to bet that gun sales, which have been in the toilet since Draft Dodger Don took the oath, will probably start moving back up. And DDD has now agreed to show up at the NRA, which will provoke more outrage from the other side, leading to more interest in guns.

NRA show             Yesterday our friends at The Trace sent out their daily newsletter with a story about a pro-gun rally in Minnesota which may have drawn as many as 2,000 hardy souls, along with another rally of red-blooded patriots which ‘packed’ the Pennsylvania State House to celebrate the annual rally to ‘Protect Your Right to Keep and Bear Arms.’ These two events probably brought 5,000 freedom-loving Americans together to celebrate their ‘God-given gun rights’ but I doubt if these events would have drawn a fraction of those numbers were it not for the Parkland kids.

What I find most interesting in the increased attention being paid to gun violence is the degree to which both sides find it convenient to wrap their strategies and beliefs around ideas which have absolutely no basis in truth. Gun Nuts are an easy target in this respect, because some of them, particularly the ones who troll my Facebook page, really believe that owning a gun is a God-given ‘right.’ Now the fact that our legal system is based on a secular document drawn up by a bunch of lawyers who spent a hot summer in Philadelphia, doesn’t mean that what these proponents of gun ‘rights’ either say or believe should ever be tested against what happens to be true.

But when it comes to arguing about guns, don’t make the mistake of thinking that stupidity only comes from the pro-gun crowd. Because there’s plenty of stupidity and dumbness on the gun violence prevention (GVP) side as well, a recent column on the Vox website easily making the grade. The Vox piece cites an article which recently appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine in which the first sentence says, “Despite the high rates of unintentional firearm injuries…” and then cites three articles which don’t say anything about whether gun accident rates are high or not. The articles just say that gun injuries occur in homes which contain guns. Wow! What a remarkable finding; i.e., you need to own a gun in order to get injured when it goes off.

The NEJM article which found a reduction in gun accidents during NRA shows went all through the GVP media mélange like a horse let out to eat in a field where the grass was just cut. I mean, it tore through the GVP world and now is tearing through it again because the NRA show is coming right up.

The authors claim they used a “beneficiary-level multivariable linear regression of firearm injury,” which is short-hand for telling all you boobs out there that this is really an evidence-based piece of work.  It is so evidence-based that the authors didn’t even stop to ask why the NRA show happens to be scheduled every year at roughly the same time, and how this scheduling might play a role in how and when gun accidents occur.

The NRA show, which is usually but not always located in a Southern state, and draws most of its attendees from the South, just happens to be scheduled when hunting seasons in all Southern states have come to an end and just before folks start thinking about the beach. Guns don’t compete with the beach. And hunting accidents always go down just before and after hunting season comes to an end.

For all their hifalutin jargon, these public health researchers concocted a study examining a certain type of behavior about which they know nothing, not the slightest bit. But that didn’t stop Vox from taking this nonsense and making it a ‘must read’ for the gun-control side.  After all, why let facts get in the way of opinions, right?

How Come Gun Sales Haven’t Shown A Parkland ‘Spike?’

Whenever a mass shooting occurred under the Obama ‘regime,’ the President would deliver a teary speech, the usual suspects in Congress and the gun violence prevention (GVP) community would call for a new gun-control law and gun sales would go through the roof.  This was the scenario after Aurora, after the shooting of Gabby, after Sandy Hook.

march              Parkland has been different because the gun-control organizations won’t be getting their marching orders from the liberal political establishment and Draft Dodging Trump; this time the whole shebang is being led by a bunch of kids. And if you don’t think that Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg haven’t pushed the whole issue of gun control into a totally different context, just ask Laura Ingraham how she’s doing getting new sponsors for her television show.

What has also changed since Parkland is the degree to which the gun industry can no longer live off of panic buying generated by fears that guns will no longer be around. The FBI has just released its NICS numbers for March, an event which used to be greeted by Gun-nut Nation with paroxysms of joy, but the numbers for last month landed with a dull thud.

Here are the relevant numbers:  Handgun checks in March 2018 were 781,452; the number for March 2017 was 751,866, which is basically the same. Overall month-to-month NICS checks did increase from 1,274,419 in 2017 to 1,417,463 this year, a gain of 11%, but checks in February 2013, when Obama was ramping up his post-Newtown gun bill were more than 1.5 million, a number that won’t happen again.

One interesting caveat is that the number of NICS checks for the category known as ‘other’ doubled from 38,684 in 2017 to 68,192 this year.  For the most part, a background check classified as ‘other’ is used when someone buys a serialized receiver which isn’t connected to a barrel or a stock. The transaction still requires a background check but the owner has to then add various components so that he actually can fire the gun, which is increasingly how AR-15 rifles are now sold. One of the reasons the AR-15 is so popular is that the polymer frame can easily be adapted to all kinds of accessories and do-it-yourself parts; this also reduces the price of the gun by as much as half.

I truly believe that the Parkland kids have accomplished what none of the organizations which comprise the GVP community have ever done before; namely, they have shifted the argument about gun violence away from the political arena to where it really belongs, namely, as an issue which ultimately needs to be decided by the people who own guns. Because either the gun-owning community will realize that they simply don’t need to own any more of the damn things or people who don’t own guns will decide that they don’t need to own them at all. If Gun-nut Nation stops registering its fears about losing their guns by stampeding into gun shops every time a liberal politician says something about needing more gun control, passing sensible and effective gun laws will be a piece of cake.

In the interests of full disclosure, however, I must add a note about the current regulatory environment itself. I am not particularly sanguine about enhancing gun regulations if it means granting more power or authority to the ATF.  The ATF lab is probably the best forensic lab in the world, but the regulatory division contains the biggest bunch of liars, inept fools and misfits who could ever be put together in any federal agency at all. This is the bunch that violated countless laws because they thought that a repair garage in Arizona was converting semi-auto AK rifles into full-auto jobs. This is also the bunch which convinced themselves that David Koresh was making machine guns in his compound outside of Waco, a totally-mistaken belief which cost 75 lives.

I am really happy that a bunch of kids are leading the effort rather than a bunch of GVP organizations taking their cues from on high. But give the ATF more authority to regulate guns?  Please.

 

 

 

There’s Nothing Like A Good Story To Help Sell Guns.

Sooner or later someone in the gun business would figure out how to merge reality with fantasy and take advantage of the upsurge in left-wing political activities since the election of the nut-job known as Donald Trump.  It started with the home-school queen, Dana Loesch, who popped up in an NRA video production whining about threats posed by the Left. She goes on and on about how the Left is doing one dangerous and violent thing after another and her rant concluded with, “the only way we save our country and our freedom is to fight this violence of lies with a clenched fist of truth.”

tactical              Now notice – no mention of guns, no mention of armed, self-defense – the whole thing is about as subtle as getting whacked over the head with a two-by-four. But now a gun company, admittedly not yet a major player in the industry, has started running messaging on its Facebook page which explicitly takes Dana’s message about fighting left-wing violence to another level and making the clearest possible connection between politics and armed, self-defense; in this case, using an AR-15 assault rifle to defend everything that patriots hold dear.

The company is called Spike’s Tactical out of Florida, which sells various AR-15 models and claims they build the finest AR-15’s ‘on the planet,’ even though every other AR outfit basically says the same thing.  The good news about the AR design is that it’s kind of like a Lego set; you can buy all the individual parts and put the gun together any way you want. The bad news is that AR sales have hit rock bottom, the proof is simply the fact that the new guns cost about half of what they were selling for during the heady days of the Obama regime.

When assault rifles first hit the market as a mass product, the gun industry tried to picture them as nothing more than just another type of ‘sporting’ gun, no different from any other rifle that a hunter or sportsman would take into the field. The industry even invented a new term, the ‘modern sporting rifle,’ as if there was the slightest similarity between these guns which take 30-round magazines and the Browning or Remington semi-auto hunting rifles which held 4 or 5 rounds. This attempt to present the AR as just nothing other than a 21st-century version of the Daisy Red Ryder found under every Christmas tree began to take some serious lumps after a guy stuck his ‘sporting gun’ out of a hotel window in Vegas, killing or wounding more than 600 folks, but leave it to the fertile imaginations of the people selling guns at Spike’s Tactical to turn the idea of ‘sporting arms’ on its head and make the concept of killing people with an AR-15 a virtue instead of a vice.

The release of the ad, which shows four armed citizens protecting us from a murderous, threatening Antifa bunch, happened to appear at the same time that one of America’s most beloved patriots, Cliven (‘let me tell you about your Negro’) Bundy, had all the charges against him and his sons dropped that came out of the standoff at his ranch in 2014. And as soon as he emerged from the courtroom, ol’ Clive made it clear that he’s ready to resume his fight. His Facebook page is already selling sweat shirts and I’m sure there’s more consumer crap to come.

If I were the owner of a tactical gun company, I would release a Cliven Bundy limited edition rifle, complete with a carrying case and t-shirt because the profit is always in the add-ons, and I notice that Spike’s Tactical is already promoting a clothing company under another brand name. The point is that notwithstanding the usual liberal lament about how the gun industry increasingly pushes products toward the most extreme elements on the alt-right, the truth is that what works for the gun business best of all is messaging based on fantasy, not on fear.

 

Want To Make A Million In The Gun Business? Start With Two Million.

If you decided to invest in the stock market on June 15, the Dow that day stood at 21,359. The day after Thanksgiving it closed at 23,557. In other words, just about any stock you would have bought in June was probably up at least 10% over the following five months. Unless you made the mistake of buying Smith & Wesson stock, which was selling for $24 on June 15 and closed on November 24 at $13 a share. You would have done a little better with Sturm, Ruger, which was at $68 a share in mid-June and ended last week at $50, a nosedive of ‘only’ 25 percent.
stock prices

Talk about a Black Friday! The old joke used to be that if you wanted to make a million in the gun business, start with two million. That old joke seems to be coming true in spades! But if that’s the case, and I thank our good buddy Shaun Dakin for pointing this out, how come the FBI-NICS background check system set a new, single-day record for the number of received calls? They claim they were ‘flooded’ with 203,086 calls on Friday, which broke the single-day record of calls – 185,713 – set on Black Friday in 2016.
Before all my friends in the gun violence prevention (GVP) community start lamenting that America is once again becoming awash with guns, let’s remember that on average, more than 40% of the calls received by NICS are for license verifications, private sales and other issues which have nothing to do with the over-the-counter movement of guns. And when the FBI publishes their total monthly stats for November, I’ll take the short odds that retail gun sales will continue to show the same 15% slide that has been going on all year.
Want to see a really great investment opportunity in guns? Add some corporate debt bonds issued by Remington Arms, which has dropped from $65 to $14 over the last six weeks. And it appears that this trend will not only continue but may get worse, with Remington broadly hinting that a default on their debt may not be far behind. And the reason why their bonds are turning into junk is the same reason that prices for Ruger and S&W stock continue to fall, namely, that nobody’s buying their guns.
Incidentally, Remington happens to be the ‘flagship’ company for an outfit known as the Freedom Group, which was the brainchild of an amateur gun nut named Steve Feinberg who cobbled Remington together with Bushmaster, DPMS, Marlin and a couple of smaller companies to create what was described as the leading “innovator, designer, manufacturer and marketer of guns and ammunition” anywhere, anytime, anyplace. I’m quoting from the press release for what was supposed to be a big $200 million IPO in 2010. Now they can’t pay off their $275 million debt. Oh well, oh well.
I don’t follow the ins and outs of the stock market but I do know something about the price of guns. Right now I can buy a Smith & Wesson Shield pistol from Bud’s Gun Shop for $299. I can buy the same gun from the Grab-A-Gun website for $279. I’ll have to pay my local dealer a few bucks to do the transfer, but a year ago that gun was selling for $379. I can pick up a Ruger AR-15 for under 600 bucks; that man-killer used to sell for $899 or more.
In my lifetime I remember when every, single American kitchen had a Mixmaster next to the stove. I also remember when I first put my hands on the keyboard of an electric typewriter made by IBM. If the stock prices of S&W and Ruger continue to slide, those company names will wind up like Studebaker, Philco and Trump Air. Remember something called a pay phone?