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Culture & Politics

Who’s Buying All Those Guns?

by Robert W. Hunnicutt   |  January 3rd, 2013 9

Gun sales have set record after record, with continuous year-over year gains for more than 30 months. The FBI’s NICS system recorded almost 2.8 million records checks in December, up by more than 40% from the prior year, which itself was way up from 2010. Clearly, a whole lot of Americans are out there voting on guns with their credit cards, right?

Not so fast, say gun opponents like the Brady Campaign and Violence Policy Center. The notion that gun ownership is growing quickly would imply that politicians have a lot of new gun-owning constituents who might not want their nice new AR-15s confiscated.

So even before Newtown, the anti-gun groups were peddling the idea that, no, those huge sales figures don’t represent new gun owners. They are, the antis claim, the same embittered few who have been buying guns all along.

The VPC claimed, in a study titled “A Shrinking Minority: The Continuing Decline of Gun Ownership in America:”

“Gun ownership in America is declining. This is the unavoidable conclusion from new, comprehensive, national data spanning nearly 40 years contained in the General Social Survey (GSS) conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago.”

The GSS report would have you believe that:

“From 1977 to 2010, the percentage of American households that reported having any guns in the home dropped more than 40 percent.
During this period household gun ownership hit its peak in 1977, when more than half (54 percent) of American households reported having any guns. By 2010, this number had dropped more than 20 percentage points to a low during this period of 32.3 percent of American households reporting having any guns in the home.

In 2010, less than a third of American households reported having a gun in the home.”

This being the VPC, no thought apparently is given to the notion that maybe people aren’t particularly inclined to report truthfully whether they own guns to some strange researcher from the U. of Chicago. And maybe, given growing distrust of government, they are even less inclined to do so today than they were 40 years ago.

So if guns have sold at a record pace for three years, where are they all going? You guessed it, to “the current-gun owning population—primarily white males.”

Since the whole 2012 election has been spun as the Waterloo of the middle-aged, middle class white man (excuse me, the term “male” is for dogs), the clear implication is that, Mr. Politician, you can scoop up the guns of those old white guys with impunity, since they have been forever put in their rightful place by the Obama triumph.

I don’t have any more of a crystal ball into who is buying guns than the VPC does. But the notion that a small cadre of white, southern, Republican men can support almost three years of sales records beggars belief. Lots of people, and lots of people who never thought about buying guns, are buying them now because they are afraid they won’t be able to later.

In time, we’ll know more about their age, sex, race, sexual orientation and all those other demographic distinctions that are held to be so important these days. Politicians would do well to find out more before they swallow the snake oil being offered by the antis. The next election won’t have a guy named Obama at the top of the ballot, and those bitter, racist, gun-owning, middle-aged white males may just make a comeback, especially if someone’s tried to grab their guns.

  • DetroitMan

    "I don’t have any more of a crystal ball into who is buying guns than the VPC does."

    I agree that it beggars belief that only current gun owners are buying new guns. Somebody should take up the challenge of compiling some real information to combat this anti-gunner lie. Why not G&A? I realize you are one small publication, but you are a journalistic organization and you have a friendly relationship with gun owners. When I saw the headline I was expecting some substantial counter information, and I was greatly disappointed to read the line quoted above. We all need to work together to combat this new anti gun hysteria. You have the informational and professional resources to attempt to tackle this. Some good old fashioned journalism and detailed research would help immensely here. Please don't let this issue go with the indifferent shrug you gave here.

    • RWHunnicutt

      Well, for example, NSSF did this report a couple of years back on "Modern Sporting Rifles," their term for what most of us would call black guns.

      It's probably the most comprehensive data out there on that category, but represents what was happening in 2010. Getting a handle on what is happening now will be quite a large undertaking and will take quite some time to compile.

      • DetroitMan

        Thank you, that is good information. The recent, infamous story of a newspaper publishing the addresses of registered gun owners shows that the information is available. I would think that the same registration information could be used to determine if new people are buying guns, or if only current gun owners are buying. Of course you could only measure handguns this way (since they are the only ones required to be registered in most of the US), but it would shed some light. Anecdotal evidence from gun stores and firearms instructors tells us that new people are becoming interested, and many first timers are starting with handguns. This would be my approach, anyway. :)

        Thanks again for following up with the link, and sorry if I was harsh in the first post. I'm just passionate about this. I really want to see this anti-gunner myth debunked. We can't allow them to portray us as a fringe minority, because that will win political sympathy for their cause.

  • Bill

    Current gun owners already bought their black guns years ago. The rush is for new owners and investors, not the typical gun owner. I bet if you looked at the investors in the gun and ammo industry, you'd find a lot of hypocrites making big bucks.

  • Heretic

    Speaking for myself, most of the guns I've seen sold lately are new owners. Mostly women. Many people have come and asked advice about what a good first gun would be, how to clean them, and how to shoot them.

  • Joseph Kimrey

    Who’s Buying All Those Guns? Me, when I can find em.

  • AgileBulletDodger

    Not sure how many of these people spouting objections to the reporting that actually spend time in gun stores. Current gun owners will always buy guns when they find something new they want to add to their collection – you'll not change that. I enjoy going to gun shows and gun stores just to talk to other enthusiasts, handle new items, talk to sales people or instructors, etc., but one thing I can tell you for certain, the majority of the people I've seen at these counters the last few years are BRAND SPANKIN' NEW GUN OWNERS! Gun enthusiasts don't fumble with firearms at the table and don't ask questions like, "how do you load this", "where's the safety", etc. I've seen more women buying guns the last few years than before and in fact, the ranges are filled with groups of women shooting these days. Its very clear to me that these nay-sayers aren't breaking with tradition and not using facts to back and support their unfounded and biased rhetoric. my .03 cents.

  • Dwayne

    I we really to believe that ANYONE with half a brain is going to respond to a poll asking if you have any guns? If they would, how many lied and said NO.

  • mikeemo

    i would like to thank president obama for being gun sales man of the year we went to the tanner gun show in denver this weekend and wow what a turn out im shure he had no idea that he would be sales man of the year and joe biden comes in number 2 way to go guys you have spured the american public out in full force i have never seen so many red blooded americans out to enjoy them selfs ever

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