By all accounts, Americans are buying guns in record numbers. Why?
Bloomberg says that gun sales are increasing by significant amounts. Gun purchases increased 54 percent from 2008 to 2012, and publicly traded gun manufacturers are reporting more than 40 percent increases in sales in 2013. Demand is so great that manufacturers are competing for market share in the expanding gun market by introducing new products, which is driving a sharp increase in gun-related patents. The Washington Post reports that Virginia set a record for Black Friday gun sales. Isn’t it curious that people would think of buying weapons on the day after Thanksgiving?
Many of the new gun purchasers are women and the elderly; gun ownership in both demographics is rising. Indeed, one report estimates that 25 percent of all women own a gun.
Why this sudden surge in gun sales? In recent years, some people have speculated that the increases were due to concerns that governmental entities would restrict gun ownership and a desire to load up before any limitations take effect — but that rationale doesn’t make much sense now, with no meaningful effort underway to regulate gun ownership at the federal level and many states loosening their restrictions on carrying firearms. The normal reason to buy a gun would be to feel more personally secure, but there hasn’t been any apparent, noticeable increase in criminal activity that would motivate people to buy a gun now, as opposed to last year or five years ago. So why the sudden burst of gun-buying activity?
It’s a bit unsettling that so many people in this country feel the need to be amply armed, in their homes and in their daily lives. It’s as if they are expecting a breakdown in law and order and envisioning a dog-eat-dog world. It’s strange to live in a world where so many people apparently think we are on the brink of apocalypse.