Gun bubble reloads on Obama re-election fears

April 3, 2012

By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The gun bubble has reloaded on fears of a second term for President Barack Obama. His election in 2008 triggered massive growth in firearms sales. Buyers apparently expected the first Democratic White House in eight years to push for stricter gun control laws. That never happened, sending weapon sales tumbling – until now. The prospect of Obama’s re-election is boosting sales, and shares of gunsmiths, once again.

Candidate Obama’s victory nearly four years ago set off the first “run for guns.” Anxiety about economic Armageddon also added to demand for the ultimate counter-cyclical asset. Federal firearm and ammunition excise tax receipts rose 45 percent in fiscal 2009, the biggest increase ever, according to government statistics. Gun-maker Smith & Wesson’s backlog jumped from $20 million in Oct. 2008 to $268 million in April 2009.

The boom misfired. The Obama administration didn’t press for gun legislation of any significance. Meantime, the financial crisis abated and the economy improved, leaving fewer people concerned about stockpiling weapons. Smith & Wesson’s firearms backlog fell to $32 million in October 2010, and the stock lost half its value.

Gun owners and investors are once again betting on post-election restrictions. Whether the president’s leaving gun owners alone is a guide to future policy or “part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment – during his second term!”, as National Rifle Association executive Wayne LaPierre claimed recently in a speech, remains to be seen. Gun buyers aren’t waiting.

Sturm, Ruger recently announced it couldn’t keep up with demand. The maker of weapons such as the Hawkeye Predator varmint rifle had received more than 1 million orders in the first quarter. Smith & Wesson had a nearly $200 million backlog at the end of January. That’s more than 2.5 times larger than it was a year earlier.

No wonder gun stocks are on a tear. Since the start of the year Sturm, Ruger’s stock is up 55 percent; Smith & Wesson’s has risen 91 percent and hunting superstore Cabela’s has surged by 53 percent. The run could continue to November, and perhaps beyond. It may be that a second Obama term will seek to curb the sale of firearms. But history – rather than conspiracy theory – suggests this is just another gun bubble in the making.


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You can say that Obama has not overtly created any new gun regulations or pushed congress for new regulations but he is the one who assured a number of his anti-gun supporters that he is working on things “under the radar”. How would you expect NRA members and other gun owners to interperet that statement?

Posted by Tejicano | Report as abusive

It certainly does not make much sense.

But the anti-gun forces in the USA are almost exactly the same people as the anti-freedom forces. The problem is that both parties believe there is entirely too much freedom for ordinary Americans. Both would take more money from ordinary wage earners, and by ordinary wage earners I mean people who derive 75% or more of their income from either salaried or hourly wages from a business they do not own. Both would, and have, reduced freedom of movement by such people. Both have imprisoned a larger percentage of such people every year, year in and year out. Both have greatly increased covert Government surveillance and searches of such people. Both harp on how Government is to be trusted to do the “right thing” despite evidence to the contrary. Both compile “enemy lists” of ordinary Americans.

Yes, the People have much to fear and most of it is from domestic enemies and from “beneficent” Government advocates. Guns are the only form of power still allowed in the hands of such people. The ballot, by contrast, is purely decorative fig leaf.

Posted by txgadfly | Report as abusive

Gun lovers don’t really need any excuse.

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive

Here we go again, another round of “the sky is falling”,” and Wolf”, wolf,” cries from the omnipresent ‘Super-hawk, NRA, Conservative Lobbying Org, scaring rednecks across America, using their normal fear based scare tactics to raise money and buy even more legislative votes across the US. It’s their motives and agenda that really disturb me and I vehemently oppose. It’s not about preserving 2nd Amendment rights any longer; it’s about money, power and their deceit. All across America, gun ownership restrictions and legal concealed carry laws are at historic lows and highs with still to come. State legislators, flush with NRA funds and campaign donations and lobbyists’ supplied legislative templates or even ready-to-use complete legislative proposals have gone haywire.

For example, here in AZ, the presumptive self-defense law was passed Aug 08, essentially saying it’s legal to use deadly physical force if a reasonable person believes that deadly physical force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful deadly physical force. Also that “A person has no duty to retreat before threatening or using deadly physical force pursuant to this section if the person is in a place where the person may legally be and is not engaged in an unlawful act.” Essentially down and dirty, if you shoot and kill someone from the front and there are no witnesses, and claim of self defense, it’s not a crime. Then AZ legislators passed a law that legalizes a person carrying a gun into a bar, church, store etc even if the owner has a no guns allowed inside sign; except government buildings of course. Then one of those idiots submitted legislation that passed both AZ Houses prohibiting public universities from banning guns on a “public right-of-way” and allows university students over 21 and any other person to carry a concealed gun on campus; in the face of opposition from EVERY Univ & College Dean, LEO and State and County DA,s prohibits public universities from banning guns on a “public right-of-way opposed by nearly 70 percent of Arizonans and 56 percent of gun owners according a February poll by American Viewpoint; a Republican polling company.
I don’t oppose gun ownership, hell I’ve owned a gun since I was 8 years old, was taught marksmanship first then gun safety, spent 10 yrs in the Army and completed advanced marksmanship training. I still own many weapons, applied and received a CC permit in 1995 and use that permit daily. From then to now I haven’t used or even drawn a weapon in public; however I have the right to carry it.
I’m opposed to the lies and deceit used to fire-up the fearful, credulous and irresponsible to carry out their self-interest agenda and cause yet more divisive and or extremist political positioning or a us versus them and hardening the current “my way or the highway” gamesmanship we’ve all seen from this Congressional majority.

Posted by JBltn | Report as abusive

Maybe if these gun nuts didn’t blow hundreds if not thousands of dollars on guns that they’ll never need (or hopefully use) they wouldn’t be in financial crossroads. A couple grand is a nice little cushion when things get tough… or you could shoot your liberal minded neighbour who DIDN’T get laid off. Yikes!

Posted by CDN_Rebel | Report as abusive

Gun manufacturers are laughing all the way to the bank.

A significant chunk of my family spent years working for major gun manufacturers – in both management and design – and they’re chuckling over the fact they never thought of using bigotry to sell guns beyond their wildest dreams.

Posted by Eideard | Report as abusive