I’ve been trying to buy a gun recently, a better carry weapon (and by “better” I mean more concealable than what I have now and in my favorite caliber). My friends, I am here to tell you that this is an awful time to be in the market for a firearm; they are scarce and teeth-jarringly expensive because demand for them has gone through the roof. On reflection, though this is deucedly inconvenient for me at the moment, I think it implies some excellent news for the longer term and is one of a very few reasons I can think of to be grateful that Barack Obama is in the White House today.
I’ve talked with over a dozen gun dealers in the last two weeks and they’re all singing minor variations on the same song. “They’re back-ordered for five or six months out.” “I could sell fifty of those if I could get them from the manufacturer.” “Kimber is about forty thousand guns behind.” “I’ve been in this business thirty years and I’ve never seen supplies so tight.”
What I’m hearing from every single one of them is that demand for firearms – especially pistols – surged in November of last year and hasn’t un-surged since; gunmakers are scrambling like mad to catch up. Alas, a firearm is not an injection-molded gewgaw; they have to be made from high-quality metal machined to fairly close tolerances, and ramping up production capacity on such hard goods is not something you can do quickly, especially in the middle of a credit crunch.
Why last November? Because though Barack Obama worked hard at it, he didn’t lie convincingly enough to cover his record of hostility to civilian firearms and Second Amendment rights. The day he won the Presidency of the United States, a significant fraction of the population of this country apparently decided they’d better get theirs while the getting was still possible. A similar demand ripple has been triggered often enough in the past by the election of Democratic presidents that it’s been a running joke among firearms fans for decades; what’s unprecedented is the tsunami-like magnitude of this one.
Americans are still out there eight months later buying firearms like mad – and I think this can be nothing but good in the longer term. Let me count the ways:
1. More firearms in civilian hands means a larger constituency to oppose restrictive firearms laws and regulations.
2. More firearms in civilian hands means more people carrying concealed, depressing crime rates.
3. More firearms in civilian hands means the balance of coercive power shifts in favor of the people and against government, making some of our nastier potential futures just that much less likely.
4. Higher demand means more firearms-manufacturing capacity in the future, leading to lower prices and a likelihood that the previous three virtuous effects will be sustained.
My most serious concern about this situation is that the manufacturers might overinvest themselves into a capacity glut and get badly hammered when and if the market saturates. But that’s a worry for another day.
Thank you, Barack Obama. You didn’t intend this good result, but then I suspect that pretty much all of whatever little good you end up doing will have been unintentional. I’m grateful for it anyway.