Gun Sales Up:

Last year, I blogged about claims that gun sales were up due to concerns about the economy; I expressed skepticism, given that the rises and falls seemed to have little to do with economic trends. But more recent claims that gun sales rose following President Obama’s election turn out to be accurate, at least judging by background check data. Here is the table I posted last October, updated to include October 2008 to February 2009; each cell indicates a percentage increase over sales during the same month of the preceding year, which would account for seasonal variations:

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
2001, relative to 2000 0 -5 -1 -4 1 -2 -1 4 10 22 9 6 4
2002, relative to 2001 4 3 -2 6 5 -4 -1 -2 -16 -18 -10 -8 -5
2003, relative to 2002 -2 2 3 -1 0 2 0 -1 2 1 -5 3 0
2004, relative to 2003 6 2 0 3 -4 3 5 -2 0 1 6 7 2
2005, relative to 2004 -1 3 4 3 3 2 0 3 7 -2 4 8 3
2006, relative to 2005 13 10 10 6 12 11 12 21 16 14 13 8 12
2007, relative to 2006 15 11 15 20 28 29 20 10 3 6 3 -2 11
2008, relative to 2007 5 12 7 12 10 3 18 4 3 15 42 24 14
2009, relative to 2008 29 23

So we see that there has been a big increase in Nov. 2008 to Feb. 2009 over the corresponding months the preceding years. The increase is far greater than what we’ve seen in past month ranges since 2001 — April to July 2007 was the only thing close to it, and it was substantially below what we’ve seen, especially in the month of the election.

This can’t just be explained as seasonal variation. It can’t be just explained by population growth. I know of no explanation stemming from new technological or marketing developments (e.g., some especially appealing new gun going on the market), though if some of you know it, I’d love to hear it. This does not seem to be just a brief blip. And the timing does seem to be more closely linked to the election than to the economic downturn more broadly.