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.

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3 thoughts on “The Gun Business Ain’t What It Used To Be.

  1. My theory has always been that to provide a suitable antidote to people buying guns for the wrong reasons, we needed to stress the idea that guns were not a great way to make one safer. As someone once posted on their web site, buying a gun to stay alive should be after diet, exercise, annual checkups, common sense, and a few other things more likely to keep one alive. Yeah, you might not be able to easily move but crime is something that needs a comprehensive solution, not just arming up for the Zombie Apocolypse.

    Instead the GVP movement spends its time railing about banning this or that and alienating gun owners, thus driving sales up and giving credible rhetorical ammo to Dana Loesch et al. Yes, darling, they are coming for your semiauto if it is an AR or has an external magazine, etc., etc.

    I’m one of those weirdos who just likes to go to the range and listen to stuff go bang. But even I am wondering why one would buy some of the newfangled stuff out there. The gun that keeps catching my eye lately at the Outdoorsman of Santa Fe is a used Weatherby Vanguard in as-new shape. Yeah, its a Vanguard, but it sure is pretty. But it shoots the 300 Weatherby Magnum, and those bullets cost about the same as my 300 H&H. Woot.

  2. I don’t know if they got better, but the Vanguard was Weatherby’s attempt to get into the lower-priced market. I know because I was a Weatherby dealer when they first brought out the gun and to Weatherby aficionados, the idea of ‘their’ gun company making a gun with a polymer stock was sacrilege. But the real problem was the barrel was no good. I think they fixed it but if the gun you are looking at was made before 2000, it won’t hit anything.

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