One year ago this month, President Obama announced that radical gun control was the top of his agenda for his second term.
Although he failed to get any of the gun bans or government registrations passed on the federal level, he was successful in one area. His actions convinced millions of Americans to buy more firearms than any time in history.
The FBI reported that it performed an astounding 21,093,273 background checks for the year ending Dec. 31. In fact, eight of the top 10 highest weeks ever for National Instant Background Check System (NICS) checks were in 2013 (the other two were during Dec. 2012.)
The checks in 2013 were 8 percent higher than 2012. The one-year increase is significant because the year leading up to the presidential election also saw massive which firearm sales.
Mr. Obama has actually been the best gun salesman in history. NICS checks have gone up a whopping 66 percent since he came to the White House.
“Last year was a record setting year for gun and ammunition sales due to the threat of anti-gun legislation at both the state and federal level,” said Lawrence Keane, general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which represents the industry’s manufacturers.
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NSSF also released its own data on Monday which subtracts out the National Instant Background Check System (NICS) checks done for carry permits, which makes it a closer correlation to actual purchases. The NSSF adjusted NICS shows a 2013 year-end figure of 14,796,872.
The background checks reports are mirrored by financial information released by firearms companies.
Smith & Wesson had net sales of $625 million in the fiscal year quarters that ended on Oct. 31, 2013. That is an impressive 25 percent increase over that same period in 2012.
Sturm, Ruger & Company reported net sales of $506 million for the first three quarters of 2013, which was a 45 percent increase over the corresponding period the previous year.
Freedom Group, which owns companies including Remington, DPMS and Bushmaster, reported that the first three quarters of 2013 had net sales of $1 billion, up 47 percent from the $677 in revenue for the same period in 2012.
The gun grabbers will claim that gun sales were based on the “corporate gun lobby” fear mongering and pandering to old gun owners who then stockpiled.
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However, retailers report that one-quarter of gun sales were to first-time buyers who don’t fit that stereotype.
Mr. Keane said that the reason for the bully sales recently are as much political as a change in the industry.
“Demand is settling back down from the peaks of 2013, but the valley floor is much higher than before because of the significant number of new firearms owners — many of them young, urban and female — who elected to exercise their Second Amendment rights for the first time,” he told me Monday.
So, Mr. Obama did exactly what all the gun-right activists predicted. He used his second term to go after guns.
But in doing so, the president also drove new people into the industry, making it more dynamic, younger and engaged for the first time in defending their rights to keep and bear arms.
Mr. Obama inadvertently strengthened the force opposing his assault on the Second Amendment.
Emily Miller is senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and author of “Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery, 2013).