Obama’s Gun Boom

Gun sales, permit applications spike, federal data show, as shooting ranges draw huge crowds


Background checks for gun permits, as well as firearm stocks sales, have continued to soar in 2012 on fears of an Obama reelection.

According to data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), total background checks for firearms in February and March rose 19 percent in 2012 over the previous year.

The biggest one-year increase—26 percent—was in 2009, immediately after Obama’s election.

NICS is used by federally licensed firearm retailers to conduct mandatory background checks on purchasers of new and used firearms. Background check numbers are not an exact measure, but they provide a rough estimate for rises or drops in gun sales.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), using its own adjusted NCIS numbers, reports an increase of 20 percent over its March 2011 numbers. March is the 22nd straight month that NSSF-adjusted NICS figures have increased when compared to the same period the previous year.

Shares of firearms maker Smith & Wesson hit a new 52-week high last Monday. On March 21, Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc. said it had received orders for more than one million guns, and has stopped accepting new orders until those back-orders are completed.

Record gun sales also hit 2011’s big shopping days, such as Black Friday, which experienced a 32-percent increase in background checks over the previous year.

The most recent Black Friday posted a record 129,166 background checks in a single day.

These surges have led to busy times at shooting ranges.

“We’ve been absolutely swamped since Thanksgiving,” said Mike Collins, an employee at Sharpshooter Small Arms Range in Virginia. “It’s way ahead of last year. Now just about any day of the week we have a two-hour wait to get on one of the lanes, and we have 16 lanes. More people are interested in concealed carry permits, especially women. I think another part of it is people are worried about what may happen come Election Day.”

Sales have been rising for several years now. In December 2011, NICS ran 1.41 million background checks, the most ever in a single month, while states that regularly report concealed carry permit numbers have seen increases in permit holders ranging from 46 percent to 161 percent.

Pro-Second Amendment groups have pegged rising sales to fears of President Obama tightening gun laws if re-elected.

“I think the fear about a second Obama administration is driving sales to record levels along with the fact that local, state, and federal governments faced with budget shortfalls are being forced to lay off law enforcement and furlough prisoners,” said Andrew Arulanandam, director of public affairs for the National Rifle Association. “Furthermore, John and Jane Q. Public have never believed the Obama organization claim that they support the Second Amendment.”

Meanwhile, gun-control groups have accused gun companies of fear-mongering. Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, told Fox News the gun industry was spreading fear of Obama.

“There’s no doubt [National Rifle Association President] Wayne LaPierre is out there every day saying that President Obama has a secret plan to take away your guns,” Horwitz said. “They want to gin up sales.”

CJ Ciaramella   Email CJ | Full Bio | RSS
CJ Ciaramella is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Beacon, he was a reporter for the Daily Caller. He was also a Collegiate Network year-long fellow at the San Diego Union-Tribune and has written articles for the Weekly Standard and Oregon Quarterly. Ciaramella attended the University of Oregon, where he edited the award-winning student magazine, the Oregon Commentator. He lives in Washington, D.C. His Twitter handle is @cjciaramella. His email address is ciaramella@freebeacon.com.

Get the news that matters most to you, delivered straight to your inbox daily.

Register today!