When President Trump won, it was good news for the stock market and for many industries. But firearms manufacturers weren’t one of them. Gun sales had hit astronomical numbers under a hostile administration. Threats of confiscations and restrictions were one ingredient in the sales boom. But firearms ownership was also a cultural statement of opposition to the new leftist ruling class.
Firearms manufacturers had been expecting a Hillary victory and a post-election burst of buying. Instead the ‘Trump Slump’ arrived. It hit manufacturers, gun store owners, lobbies and activists. Anecdotally, I heard from activist groups how challenging getting people involved had suddenly become. The NRA shifted to an ad campaign that seemed more about cultural warfare than fighting gun control legislation.
But the slump only lasted until a new gun control push rolled in.
Since February 2018, every month this year has seen the number of background checks (a statistic used to partially track firearms sales) exceed the same number in 2017. The Parkland shootings happened in February. The gun control exploitation and legislative surge that followed boosted March checks to 2.7 million. That number is so huge that it seems to have no precedent in the database.
If Michael Bloomberg were truly brilliant, he would have secretly invested in firearms manufacturers before beginning his latest campaign. Flagging firearms stocks have been recovering and rising.
And NRA membership and donations are up, not despite the attacks, but because of them.
The new campaign to destroy firearms manufacturers economically by targeting financial institutions is ugly, but also absurd. Firearms manufacturers were facing far more financial problems before the gun control push threw them a solid lifeline. The activists trying to destroy them are also keeping them alive.
Obama’s first month in office saw background checks almost double over the same period in Bush’s first term. The checks hit 2 million for the first time in November 2012 as gun control made for big gun sales.
The Democrats had succeeded in making firearms ownership a partisan issue. Red-state Dems paid the price for the triumph of San Francisco gun control snobs. But the gun control push also turned what had been for most a hobby or a sport into an act of political resistance. Having politicized gun ownership, the left has been forced to contend with a politicized base of gun owners. Sneering at them created a sense of cultural solidarity that transcends the fact of gun ownership and taps into other cultural issues.
The gun control left sustains the gun lobbies and the culture that it rails against. If it really wanted to win, all it would have to do is stop the gun control hysteria. Red state Dems would be able to recover some ground. A Dem coalition could use its newfound power to accelerate immigration, which along with urbanization and college indoctrination, reduces support for the second amendment.
Democrats have occasionally tried to do this, only to get shut down by their own donor network.
And then they launch another major gun control push. They score some limited victories, the 2A base rallies and they get handed another string of losses in key states. The millions they squandered on gun control could just as easily have been mailed directly to the Republican National Committee.
This, if nothing else, shows that the gun control push isn’t rational. It’s not the sensible, inevitable or common sense plan that the activists claim it is. Guns are a symbol. And culture wars are about stamping out or uplifting certain symbols to represent who we are who we think the ‘other’ is.
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