- The Washington Times - Friday, November 21, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Safes and guns. Those are the two top selling purchases by American consumers right now, according to retail analysts. It could be a telling sign about the nation’s priorities, safety concerns and financial insecurity — and whether there are mixed feelings about the impending Obama administration’s ability to ease economic and security woes.

The FBI has received more than 374,000 requests for background checks on gun purchases from Nov. 3-9, which is an almost 49 percent increase over the same period in 2007. And the flood of gun sales began immediately after the Nov 4. election. Generally speaking, gun sales tend to rise when the economy is slowing down, so it could be argued that despite gun control fears about President-elect Barack Obama, he is not entirely to blame. Still, many gun shop owners, including those in Virginia, point out that gun sales were not this high at other times of uncertainty — such as Y2K, September 11 or Hurricane Katrina. And those expressing their viewpoints in the news and on blogs indicate that they are concerned that guns and ammunition will either be taxed more or restricted by the new Congress. So, they believe, now is the time to stock up.

Unpredictability of stock market movements, bankruptcy and bailouts have also left many Americans feeling insecure about leaving their money in the bank. There have been numerous news reports of bank customers making massive withdrawals, and people hoarding money at home and or selling off property to pawn shops. This likely explains the second most top-selling consumer item - safes. SentrySafe, a top safe manufacturer, saw its sales shoot up 50 percent in early October. U.S. Safe says sales have been up 30 percent over the past three-four months. In fact, within that time frame we’ve seen some of the scariest moments on the Stock Exchange as the markets have plunged, risen, and swirled like a roller coaster. And while most retailers are reporting a slump in sales, Lowe’s says it can’t keep enough safes available in its stores for purchase.

The electoral mandate for “change” included a “hope” that the new administration will deliver on dealing with the economic crisis and raise confidence. But the hoarding and hysteria fly in the face of that sentiment. Despite the money fears, financial experts insist that the federal government will insure bank deposits up to $250,000 - which covers most of us.

For the glass half-empty crowd the writing is on the wall — there is a clear lack of confidence which readily needs to be addressed. For the glass half-full folks — Americans are finally saving more and gun dealers are making a killing.

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