Philip Bump reports: On Monday afternoon, while the attention of the political media world was focused on events at the United Nations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced that it was dropping plans to reclassify a particular form of ammunition. It was a rare success for a letter-signed-by-most-Republican-senatorsthis week, after Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) got most of his colleagues to sign on to a missive that captured an already-bubbling sentiment among conservatives. (That opponents of gun control measures won a victory, of course, is anything but a rare success.)
If you want the full back story, it’s here. But what we want to focus on is the phenomenon that has frequently resulted when the administration has either threatened new gun control measures or when the public has been worried that it might, as it did in the wake of the ATF’s recent announcement: Firearm sales skyrocket.
As soon as Barack Obama won the 2008 election, gun sales spiked. The number of background checks (a point of data linked to gun sales numbers) increased by 50 percent over the rest of that year in November and December. (December figures are often higher, we’ll note, due to the popularity of giving weapons as Christmas presents.) The Aiken Standard in Aiken, S.C., wrote about spiking sales that December, quoting an employee at a local gun store: “There’s been a definite increase. It’s because a Democrat is in office, in my opinion.” Not quite in office, but you get the point.
To measure how big the Obama Gun Boom has been, we turned to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. It uses data on excise taxes collected by the government on weapon and ammunition sales to estimate the total market for those products. It provided its estimates from 1982 through the third quarter of last year to the Post.
Overall, the estimates look like this. We’ve shaded in the Obama Era as encompassing 2008 through 2014, due to the spike at the end of 2008. (That plays into our projections later, so bear that in mind.) Notice the spike in 1993, as well, the last time a Democrat assumed the presidency. And, of course, backed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which is precisely the sort of thing gun advocates fear. Read the rest of this entry »