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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:

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecTotal
2001, relative to 20000-5-1-41-2-141022964
2002, relative to 200143-265-4-1-2-16-18-10-8-5
2003, relative to 2002-223-1020-121-530
2004, relative to 20036203-435-201672
2005, relative to 2004-134332037-2483
2006, relative to 2005131010612111221161413812
2007, relative to 20061511152028292010363-211
2008, relative to 2007512712103184315422414
2009, relative to 20082923

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.

Syd Henderson (mail):
How does it compare with the winter of 1992-3?
3.18.2009 1:00pm
A.C.:
How about -- people think a government with all three branches under Democratic Party control is likely quite soon, and so they expect some form of serious gun control to be put through? They're stocking up in anticipation of future shortages.
3.18.2009 1:07pm
Houston Lawyer:
It would also be interesting to track ammo sales. For the first time in my memory, many stores are sold out of 9mm, .380, .40 and .45 ammo. I've been to two gun shows in the past couple of months and most of the people there are very concerned that the President will back legislation making it more difficult or expensive to buy both guns and ammo.

I finally took the concealed carry class a couple of weeks ago and the instructor noted that applications are up 300% this year resulting in a six month wait for processing of the licenses. Notwithstanding that concealed carry licenses are a state issue, most people seem to believe that the Obama administration will somehow limit those as well.
3.18.2009 1:09pm
Sigivald (mail):
I don't have hard data, but anecdotally, one cannot get a "normal" (16 to 20 inch, non-crazy-match-grade) AR-15 barrel in any sensible manner, nor has one been able to for months now.

A batch arrives, and sells out within hours, as soon as people notice they're available.

Lower receivers are can be tricky to find (and prices are up), but nowhere as hard as barrels.

Previously, there simply wasn't that level of demand (obviously, if there had been, long term, production would have ramped up to meet it) - and everyone who's made a comment on it suggests that it's because of fear of a new ban.

(Hopefully, once fearmongering about the dead-in-committee-in-2007 H.R.1022 dries up and it become apparent that Pelosi really did mean it when she said that she knows it's political poison, panic-buying will slow down.)

Then again, I can't even comprehend the logic behind "surge in gun sales because of concerns about the economy"; unless one imagines that a huge number of people who were previously utterly unconcerned decided that civilization was likely to collapse, they wouldn't be buying a gun because they were worried about an economic downturn.

Recessions and even depressions don't make one need a firearm (especially a rifle), particularly. Those who were concerned with self defense (or the more paranoid case of a collapse of civilization) are very unlikely to have suddenly become so in the past 4 or 5 months - most such people already have defensive arms.

(It is of course hard to get good data on that, but every available anecdote suggests no sudden surge in awareness of the utility of defensive arms among people previously not disposed to think of it.)
3.18.2009 1:10pm
PlugInMonster:
This is just right wing paranoia.
3.18.2009 1:15pm
GD:
Concerns about the company? [EV: Uh'oh -- meant to say "economy," just changed this.]
3.18.2009 1:17pm
Greg-o:
From talking with my friends around here and the local gun stores, it is entirely concerns about obama. For example, 8 of my friends have purchased AR-style rifles in the last three months. Prior to that I was the only one with any interest in the platform. Heck, I built a second one just for fun... it now sits unused since I tend to really enjoy the ultra-heavy very accurate match rifle I originally bought and I just bought the carbine "because", although having an AR that weighs less than 15 pounds is still an interesting proposition to me. Now 3 of those folks have started putting in orders for parts for their 2nd or third AR-style rifles..

Combine that with the complete and total lack of brass, powder, primers, bullets, etc. in almost any common semi-auto rifle/pistol caliber, and things get interesting. Notice that here, there is plenty of shotgun ammo, and plenty of ammo in the magnum, ultra-mag, and other primarily bolt gun calibers... Heck, I couldn't even find any 22lr bricks last weekend. The only things that are selling are ammo and parts for semi-autos...
3.18.2009 1:20pm
Sigivald (mail):
(And to back up what Houston Lawyer said, ammunition is also crazy right now.


A year ago there was all the SS109* you could want, loose packed or on clips, by the can and the case - and it might have been $.15 or $.20 per.

Now? You can buy it... for over $1 a round. Until it sells out, which it seems to do continually**.

* Military standard 5.56x45, 62 grain penetrator round.

** Which I take as a sign of panic buying, myself. I wouldn't consider paying half that.
3.18.2009 1:20pm
Vanceone:
Heh. I wish I could afford a few guns right now myself. Yes, liberals, it's because of Obama, Pelosi and Reid. Yes, we know Pelosi claims to be backing off the issue. But we also saw just how much leftist dream programs get crammed through in the name of "economic emergency." No one got to read the bill.

For the first time in my memory, a large substantial chunk of the US population is buying weapons in fear of their own government. What do you think about that, liberals? That your policies scare enough people that the gun and ammo manufacturers cannot produce fast enough to keep up with demand?
3.18.2009 1:21pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Syd Henderson: There was no federally mandated background check in 1992-93, so we don't have the same federal background check data. Nor do I know of any other dataset one can turn to for this.
3.18.2009 1:22pm
Art Eclectic:
I suppose no one could possibly consider that the economic crash and fear of a possible Depression might have anything to do with it?

/sarcasm
3.18.2009 1:35pm
LarryReilly (mail):
Something is left out here.
I expect lots of guys are scarfing up the assault rifles because they fear such weapons might get legislated away. I'm all for that legislation.
And I expect no small number of folks have been doing what I did last fall -- purchased my first-ever firearm, a Glock pistol -- because I figured the economy will get bad enough that police protections might need augmenting once desperate and already bad people come to my home trying to redistribute my wealth.
BTW, I became more than plenty familiar with firearms when trained in the infantry some years ago. I just haven't wanted one in my home. Now I'm willing to take what I consider a bit of risk on that.
3.18.2009 1:36pm
A Law Dawg:
An acquaintance of mine runs a gun shop and he is making money hand over fist. He says the reason is 100% due to the election and that sales starting increasing in October when it was clear that Obama was going to win.
3.18.2009 1:39pm
Steve2:
Professor Volokh's data reminded me of something I've been curious about: is there data on gun and ammo sales by state readily available? I've found data for NICS denials by state, but that's not the same thing.

And to build on the Houston Lawyer's statement, I've heard it explained that ammo's sold out because there's none for stores to get ahold of on account of a dam in the supply stream as manufacturers and distributors wait to see whether or not more states are going to mandate manufactur-stamped casing.

In the meantime, I'm glad I bought that Mosin-Nagant. FMJ 7.62x54R remains in plentiful supply, at a nice price... although it is mostly decades old corrosive-primed junk made in places that apparently didn't believe in quality control. Still, it's better than nothing, and if it was good enough for Simo Häyhä...
3.18.2009 1:39pm
Vanceone:
Of course, LarryReilly, looking at sample gun legislation, i.e. DC's gun laws, where the Dems can do whatever they want--your brand new Glock is illegal there too. Unless you keep it locked, unloaded, in a safe, with no ammo. Great bit of help it is then, isn't it? Oh, and as I recall, you'd better hope it is a revolver, because any semi-auto pistol is illegal there too. Only a six shooter!

An assault weapon is not a m-60 machine gun--it's pretty much any gun that is newer than a muzzle loader, in the eyes of the gun control fanatics we now have in charge.
3.18.2009 1:39pm
Steve C (mail):
Gun and ammunition sales are both definitely up, seemingly directly related to Democrat party power in Washington. Further stoking the buying frenzy are AG Eric Holder's comments about a new "Assault Weapons" ban; Senator Feinstein's comments about "illegal guns" flowing to Mexico from the US; and Chicago's Mayor Daley calling for ever-stricter gun control laws in that area of the US.

I don't see this subsiding any time soon, at least not for the next 4 to 6 months.
3.18.2009 1:40pm
SeaDrive:

...one cannot get a "normal" (16 to 20 inch, non-crazy-match-grade) AR-15 barrel in any sensible manner, nor has one been able to for months now. A batch arrives, and sells out within hours, as soon as people notice they're available.


Echos of Yogi Berra: "No one goes there anymore because it's too crowded."

Everybody talks in terms of Obama, but the focus is turning more to Holder. The extent to which the President and the AG speak with one voice is not known.

Meanwhile, the worst excesses are in state law, and there is gun control legislation begin considered in just about every statehouse.
3.18.2009 1:44pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

Meanwhile, the worst excesses are in state law, and there is gun control legislation begin considered in just about every statehouse.

*cough* states rights *cough*

On a related note, has anyone come across data for sales of body armor, ie bullet-proof vests?
3.18.2009 1:47pm
Snaphappy:
I see the term "assault rifle" being used in this thread, and I take it that AR stands for "assault rifle" too. To be clear, do the posters here believe that there is such a thing as an "assault rifle"? I could have sworn I had heard that the concept is impossible to define and nobody knows what an assault rifle is, if indeed such a thing exists. I could well be wrong and would appreciate being educated.
3.18.2009 1:49pm
traveler496:
I think Eugene's "concerns about the company" should read "concerns about the economy."

I'm struck by the extent to which this knowledgeable and generally wise crowd seems concerned with means of incapacitating, and possibly ending the lives of, others. I have to this point been operating on the (admittedly not very well founded) belief that, all thing considered, having such means around my house would be a net detriment.

I'd welcome pointers to information which would help me better ground my beliefs in reality (please note that this is a rather high bar:-)
3.18.2009 1:50pm
556762:
Eugene Volokh: The only data that might be relevant for 1992-93 is the number of firearms manufactured submitted by all domestic firearm manufacturers to the ATF, and subtract out the number of firearms exported (also reported to the ATF). In addition, the BATF probably has numbers on firearms imported as well. This is also only annual numbers as well. The BATF report "Firearms Commerce in the United States 2001/2002" would be a good start, but its been removed from the ATF's web site. This is 2007's report:
3.18.2009 1:51pm
556762:
http://www.atf.gov/firearms/stats/afmer/afmer2007.pdf
3.18.2009 1:51pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
Further stoking the buying frenzy are AG Eric Holder's comments about a new "Assault Weapons" ban
Interestingly that the same people would be pushing for limiting weaponry to militia usable weapons, and then trying to ban the semi-automatic version of the primary personal weapon used by our military for some 40 years.
3.18.2009 1:54pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'What do you think about that, liberals? '

I think you're nuts. (And I wonder if Houston lawyer ever reads the Chronicle.)
3.18.2009 1:55pm
556762:
Snaphappy: ARs, AR-type, etc in the comments here is short for AR-15. This is the accepted "generic" name referring to rifles that use the AR-15 rifle specs (clones), which is basically a semi-auto only (1 round fired for each trigger pull) version of the US military's M16 rifle (M16's can fire in fully-automatic or 3-round bursts). Assault Rifle is a real term. "Assault Weapons" is a made up term used to divide gun owners, created by victim disarmament groups.
3.18.2009 1:56pm
Steve2:
Snaphappy, generally AR is in reference to the Armalite AR-15, a particular model of rifle that's become very popular in the US.

In general, assault rifle is a definable term, since it's based on what a particular rifle is engineered to do and accordingly has differences in substantive form and function from, for example, a main battle rifle. Assault weapon is the generally undefinable term, except when a legal definition's created by statute, since it relies on elements of superficial form.
3.18.2009 1:56pm
nrein1 (mail):
I have no doubt that gun sales are up due to concerns about the new adminstration. Of course this says absolutely nothing about whether such concerns are well founded. Just as many actions, like banning christmas trees in public places, are taken because of fear mongering about hypothetical ACLU lawsuits, I believe an echo chamber has been created and a lot of conservatives have convinced themselves it is only a matter of time before guns are banned. While there may be restrictions in the future, I doubt it will be done anytime soon, on assault rifles, I don't believe it will go beyond the rules that were in place during the Clinton years.
3.18.2009 1:57pm
Steve:
For the first time in my memory, a large substantial chunk of the US population is buying weapons in fear of their own government. What do you think about that, liberals?

You may be very young, in that case. In my memory, there was a significant upswing in gun ownership during the 1990s owing to fear of that gun-grabbing Janet Reno, then everything was hunky-dory for a time, then another Democrat got elected and people again began stocking up on guns.

Personally, I don't begrudge people their opinions, let alone the exercise of their Constitutional rights.

I'm curious what YOU thought about the fact that some liberals were in fear of their government during the Bush Administration. Probably didn't keep you up at night, did it? So I'm not sure why you would think liberals would react any differently to the present situation.
3.18.2009 2:01pm
allan (mail):
More people buying firearms means more people are buying ammo. If supply remained constant, we see shortages.

Why are more people buying firearms? I have no idea. I think, like PlugInMonster, that it is due to right wing paranoia. Sort of like stocking up on "Coke" when "Coke Classic" came out.

Eventually, supplies will match demand again. It is simple economics.
3.18.2009 2:02pm
Snaphappy:
Thanks Steve and 556762. I take it the quarrel with "assault weapon" is that it would include things that are not "assault rifles," like a "main battle rifle," for instance (whatever that is). I would have thought that "assault weapon" was meant to ban things like Uzis, Mac-10s, M16s and other full-auto-capable machine guns and sub machine guns, but not handguns, shotguns, hunting rifles, and similar things. Is there something I'm missing?
3.18.2009 2:05pm
Calderon:
The chart is very interesting, thanks for presenting it. From 2001 to 2005 gun sales were basically flat, outside of an increase after 9/11/01 whose cause is obvious. But then from the start of 2006 gun sales started going up. While that rate has increased from around the time when it became likely Obama would be President, the trend seems to have started much earlier.

I can't really think of anything in early 2006 that would have caused an increase in gun sales. Maybe it was correlated with a decline in the popularity of the federal government in general or Bush in particular. Some people could think that an unpopular government means more violent unrest among the populace and thus a need to buy guns to protect against that unrest (or to carry it out).
3.18.2009 2:07pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Gun sales were up in Oct. of 2001 as well. I think there's a lot more work to be done to show correlation (much less causation) between world or domestic events (and also public sentiment about such) and the particular vagaries of MTM gun sales.

Cheers,
3.18.2009 2:09pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Greg-o:
From talking with my friends around here and the local gun stores, it is entirely concerns about obama. For example, 8 of my friends have purchased AR-style rifles in the last three months.
What about sales of camo fatigues and MREs? ;-)

Cheers,
3.18.2009 2:12pm
nathan:
I'm a big firearms enthusiast. I have a collector's federal firearms license, CCW, reload ammunition and in generaly am fascinated by both the mechanical workings and history of firearms in addition to just loving to shoot.

I can tell you with 100% certainty the upswing is due to those in power. Magazines, ammunition, reloading components, all are nearly impossible to find.

One of the places I frequent for ammunition, sold 120,000 rounds of 5.56x45 ammunition in the space of 2 hours yesterday. Another place I frequent for reloading components, sold nearly 2 million primers in 3 hours last week.

With the moronic rhetoric about bans and Mexican drug cartels getting their RPGs and machine guns from the US, I think people have every right to be afraid and stockpile. I'm not one to fly off the handle about anything but even I feel like there is going to be a serious effort to curtail my 2nd amendment rights in the near future...
3.18.2009 2:13pm
Alan Gunn (mail):
It seems likely that people are buying a lot of guns because they fear a new "assault weapons" ban. A great many people on THR have said exactly that, and why would they lie? What seems odd to me is that people seem to be stocking up on the very weapons most likely to be banned, like the M-16 lookalikes and pistols with high-capacity magazines. Perhaps they're assuming that a new ban, like the old one, will grandfather existing weapons, but that's a pretty big "if." If you're really worried about a ban, why not buy things more likely to remain legal?
3.18.2009 2:16pm
Greg-o:

assault weapon


the last AWB banned semi-auto variants that looked like the full auto rifles, along with magazines with capacities greater than 10 rounds... It did not ban any previously legal for civilian ownership full auto or multi-round burst weapons. Those weapons were banned in 1986 and remain so, the only ones out there in civillian hands were those there prior to 1986.

As to the 2006 question... the democrats took congress. Hence the purchasing began...
3.18.2009 2:16pm
nathan:
Snaphappy: Just FYI machine guns are all but banned already. Civilians cannot own a fully automatic weapon manufactured after May of 1986.

To own a fully automatic weapon manufactured before May 1986, one must apply to the BATFE with ATF Form 4, including fingerprints and signed permission from the chief law enforcement officer in your area along with $200 for the applicable tax stamp. BATFE then enters into an extensive background check lasting anywhere from 60-90 days at the end of which, if you pass it, the weapon can be transfered to you and only you and it must be kept secured so that only the person with the tax stamp can access it.

This process must be repeated for each weapon.

This is all not to mention the fact that due to the pre-86 restriction, the absolute cheapest full auto weaponry available is $3000-$4000. Most are in the $7000-$15000 range and can easily get up to $50,000+.

In short, they're not weapons available to most people...
3.18.2009 2:21pm
Abdul Abulbul Amir (mail):
nrein1:

Here is an example of that concern. The DOD is no longer selling used military brass to reloaders. It will be crushed or drilled first to make it only useful for melting into ingots.

This will put many out of work at remanufacturers, and increase the cost of police practice ammunition. But even more significant is that it will reduce the price the feds get for the stuff by about 80%. Thus it appears that "what works" takes a back seat to ideology. That justifies concern.



Link
3.18.2009 2:24pm
nathan:
Abdul Abulbul Amir :

That decision was reversed as of today. Thankfully since the supply of once fired brass dried up in the last week because of that...
3.18.2009 2:26pm
Captain Ned:
@Snaphappy

Full-auto weapons (Uzi, MAC-10, Thompson, BAR) have essentially been banned (to buy one requires deep background checks and stiff excise taxes) since the National Firearms Act of 1934, enacted after the gangster messes of Prohibition.

"Assault Weapons" consist solely of those guns that liberals think look too scary, like semi-auto AR15s, AK47s, and the like. What the "Assault Weapon" crowd fails to recognize is that modern assault rifles use fairly low-power ammo compared to what the average deer hunter totes around in the woods. My .270 Winchester deer rifle has far more energy at the muzzle and 200 yds downrange than the 5.56mm of the AR15 and the 7.62x39 of the AK47/SKS.

At least here in Vermont no one has yet tried to impose any type of new firearms laws, continuing our long-term policy of having no laws.
3.18.2009 2:27pm
556762:
Snaphappy: The full-auto capable firearms (aka "real" UZIs, MAC10s, M16, AK-47s, etc), are NOT regulated by the now defunct "assault weapons" ban. These full-auto capable firearms are regulated by the NFA. These NFA firearms (which be statute/regulatory definitions, include firearm sound suppressors as well), can be transferred to "regular" folks in 30+ states, after filing paperwork, paying the federal transfer tax (which is 5-200 dollars depending on the type of NFA firearm), and waiting typically at least 3 months for the ATF to approve the transfer. Most states do not regulate NFA firearms beyond what the feds require, some have banned new transfers (WA, for example, banned further transfers in the '90s, but existing NFA firearms in possesion were allowed to remain in the state). One wrinkle for machine guns is there has been no new manufacture of machine guns for civilian transfers since 1986, so the inventory for "transferable" machine guns has been static since.
3.18.2009 2:32pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
I know a lot of the second-amendment stalwarts in my acquaintance are petrified that it is going to become much, much harder to buy firearms in the near future - owing to Obama's stances on gun control - and they're particularly worried about the sort of firearms they think are "cool".

Which is to say, really dangerous and deadly ones. The kind of thing only a terrorist or mercenary would normally be expected to have, and that you would most definitely NOT want in the hands of career criminals.

I think they're just being paranoid, myself, but my interest in firearms extends only to M1911 style sidearms and sport-type shotguns. I'm pretty skeptical that someone like myself, with a military background and zero criminal history, would ever find either of those difficult to buy. If I were interested in something more exotic, I might be out trying to buy it right now, too.
3.18.2009 2:33pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
From what I read in the papers, the Mexican drug cartels have been on a gun-buying spree in the US, snatching up semi-automatic and automatic weapons to use against the Mexican police, in response to Calderon's attempt to put them out of business.

So, I would hesitate to assume any correlation between the gun sales' increase and Obama Administration, the economy, etc, without some hard data on who the buyers are, and why they are buying.

This is just speculation.
3.18.2009 2:41pm
Houston Lawyer:
Christopher Cook.

See the following regarding the guns being used in Mexico. You can't legally buy that kind of firepower here.

guns in Mexico
3.18.2009 2:45pm
nathan:
Christopher Cooke:

Saying that Mexican drug cartels are buying their weapons in the US is complete unadulterated BS.

Firstly, I have yet to see an explanation as to exactly why organizations completely dedicated and designed to traffic in contraband needs to come to the US and buy weaponry in "Bobs Pawn &Gun" instead of going across the border and getting what they want from the Gauatamalan rebels, or from the narco-terrorists thats their source of drugs.

Secondly, the cartels are in the habit of using full auto weaponry, grenades and even light anti-tank weapons. I would dare anybody to find me any "Bobs Pawn &Gun" here in the US where I can walk in and walk out with any of that in <3-6 months time.

Thirdly, the Mexican authorities are fully capable of running serial numbers of weapons with BATFE and finding out where they originate. They're not in the habit of doing that and I suspect the reason is that the largest supplier of cartel weaponry is likely the corrupt Mexican army.
3.18.2009 2:51pm
Spartacus (www):
is there data on gun and ammo sales by state readily available?

Texas, and I think many other states, do not keep such data
3.18.2009 2:53pm
DangerMouse:
From what I read in the papers, the Mexican drug cartels have been on a gun-buying spree in the US, snatching up semi-automatic and automatic weapons to use against the Mexican police, in response to Calderon's attempt to put them out of business.

You are incorrect. The guns used by Mexican drug cartels are not from the US.


The Feb. 21 attack on police headquarters in coastal Zihuatanejo, which injured four people, fit a disturbing trend of Mexico's drug wars. Traffickers have escalated their arms race, acquiring military-grade weapons, including hand grenades, grenade launchers, armor-piercing munitions and antitank rockets with firepower far beyond the assault rifles and pistols that have dominated their arsenals.

Most of these weapons are being smuggled from Central American countries or by sea, eluding U.S. and Mexican monitors who are focused on the smuggling of semiauto- matic and conventional weapons purchased from dealers in the U.S. border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

These groups appear to be taking advantage of a robust global black market and porous borders, especially between Mexico and Guatemala. Some of the weapons are left over from the wars that the United States helped fight in Central America, U.S. officials said.


However, the increase in violence hasn't stopped the Obama administration. "Never let a crisis go to waste," after all. They will probably move to ban guns as soon as they pass FOCA.
3.18.2009 2:53pm
RT (mail):

From what I read in the papers, the Mexican drug cartels have been on a gun-buying spree in the US, snatching up semi-automatic and automatic weapons to use against the Mexican police, in response to Calderon's attempt to put them out of business.


You've been reading a lot of horse hooey then. The drug cartels are not interested in the semi autos from the USA. They get their full auto weapons from the Mexican military or smuggle them in from overseas black market manufacturers. Many of the weapons they get have no ID marks stamped on them and never did.
3.18.2009 2:54pm
rosetta's stones:
Caliban,

Your M1911 and semiauto sporting shotguns are both on the anti-gun wishlist, for banning. When Kerry emerged from his goose hunt in 2004, he was careful to be photoed carrying a 2-shot over/under shotgun, which few serious waterfowlers would employ for such use, preferring a semi or a pump. Seemingly, a clear statement that these were verboten (while also hoping the anti-gun folks forgave him for carrying ANY gun ! )

The recently expired laws prohibited thumbhole/pistol grips, which turkey hunters and stand hunters often find ergonomically useful, and such are now in production and sold today. Hard to understand what the anti-gunners find harmful about such cosmetic features, but banning them certainly demonstrated a firm commitment towards intruding on the practical ownership of firearms, and can't be reconciled with any public benefit that is apparent.
3.18.2009 2:55pm
PersonFromPorlock:
I wonder if the cause might not be a little more, er, nuanced: given evidence that things are going to Hell in a handbasket, and given governments at all levels that can't move without beclowning themselves, maybe people just feel they're on their own. Arming up follows, to reduce that sense of helplessness.
3.18.2009 3:02pm
Connie:
Think about who benefits from the frenzy and fear about banning weapons: those who make &sell guns and ammo. It's in their best interests to whip people into a frenzy, increase demand, and enjoy the benefits of higher sales. When I read that a gun magazine is the source of rumors of a ban on certain types of weapons, or that ammo will have to be etched with an ID, I think, hmmm, what POSSIBLE interest could they have in promoting that rumor?
3.18.2009 3:10pm
Vanceone:
Connie: By your logic, then, the drug companies secretly release diseases to scare up sales of drugs.

You come from the "Guns are eeeeevil!" mindset. Or do you refuse to believe that (Gasp!) the Messiah, Obama the wonderkund, could possibly want to restrict an American right? He is a constitutional lawyer, after all!

One that targets free speech of conservatives, wants to take away health care from veterans, and has historically wanted to ban guns of all kinds. The guy is a walking far leftist.

Even if you don't necessarily believe that Obama and company wants to ban guns, it's abundantly apparent that they have no clue what they are doing except making things worse. We are getting the Cold war back in the short time of two months of Obama foreign policy. It's certainly reasonable to look to protect yourself and your family from the almost inevitable disaster of some kind that Obama will bring.
3.18.2009 3:15pm
Connie:
Actually, Vanceone, I own a gun and do not think they are eeeeevil!

And wow, Obama wants to take away health care from vets? I hadn't heard that one. I thought we were all going to get it. Huh, who knew.
3.18.2009 3:25pm
RowerinVa (mail):
Caliban Darklock wrote:
"... my interest in firearms extends only to M1911 style sidearms and sport-type shotguns. I'm pretty skeptical that someone like myself, with a military background and zero criminal history, would ever find either of those difficult to buy..."

It does seem hard to believe that such a ban could happen in a country with an English common law tradition, a long history of hunting, and tradition of rugged individualists and eccentrics.

Such as England. Where is has already happened. In the past decade or so, in stages, the UK has banned handguns, confiscated (yes, that's right) the handguns of law-abiding citizens, banned fox hunting, restricted other hunting, banned "self loading" (semi-auto rifles), and even banned the carrying of most knives in many places.

Your M1911 style pistols and many (semi-auto) sporting shotguns are banned in the UK. So maybe it's not so crazy for people to be concerned that it will happen here.

Incidentally, post-ban, handgun violence is way up in the UK. Correlation or causation?
3.18.2009 3:28pm
Steve:
Indeed, Vanceone, it's silly to think that people who sell guns could ever have a vested interest in stimulating the demand for guns.
3.18.2009 3:28pm
SeaDrive:
Re: definitions of "Assault Weapon" and "Assault Rifle".

In the gun-owning community, there is scorn every time a policeman or reporter used the term "assault rifle" to describe a semi-automatic hunting rifle. And, in fact, almost all such rifles are almost always called assault rifles almost all the time. For all the blame dumped on liberals for gun control legislation, it is Police Chiefs who seem most united in the desire to disarm the public, and they use scary language whenever possible.

My own view is this. I'm a resident of Connecticut, and we have an AWB which defines assault weapons in the three classes: select fire (capable of automatic file), semi-automatic rifles, and semi-automatic pistols. These assault weapons are banned. (I would say that any rifle banned by the AWB is an assault rifle by legal definition. This view is not universally accepted. In fact, it may be unique to me).

Taking this as a given, to say that a private citizen (non-LEO) is in possession of an assault rifle is to accuse him of a felony. If, while referring to a legally-owned rifle, the police or the press call it an assault rifle, they have committed the slander of falsely accusing him of a felony with reckless disregard of the facts.
3.18.2009 3:33pm
Sagar:
Connie,

Good point; follow the money!

what I wonder is why doesn't the President or the AG come out with a strong statement categorically denying these rumors and stating once and for all that they are not going to reinstate the ban on assault weapons?

that would cut short the frenzy and prevent the gun sellers from profiting from rumors. what do you think?
3.18.2009 3:35pm
Piano_JAM (mail):
Connie,
When I bought my first (and not last) gun last November, it was not in response to rumors. It was in response to the election. I had been wanting a gun for years and had started to look, but the Zero put me (and 2 friends who also purchased) over the top. BTW, 1 of my friends voted for the Zero.

Now I plan to hoard ammo, whilst I can still purchase it.
3.18.2009 3:36pm
Nick056:
Vanceone,

Do you see a spitting distance between a drug company releasing a disease, and a guns and ammo magazine devoting space to exaggerating the threat of a weapons ban? I surely hope you do.

And by your logic, gun and ammo manufacturers apparently have no incentive to promote the idea that now is a good time to buy. But everyone selling you something looks for any reason to tell you now is a good time to buy.

I haven't a clue about the motives in this case, but the difference between releasing a disease and hyping rumors of shortages and regs is that one stands to make you a bankrupt criminal, and the other stands to make you some money. Incidentally, I do think drug companies have incentive not to release pathogens into the population, but encourage drugs as treatment for illness or maladjustment perhaps more than is necessary. Don't you agree they have an incentive to increase the sale of their product?

As to the "abundant apparence" that Obama is making things worse, could you at least kindly concede that there is abundant disagreement on that point?
3.18.2009 3:38pm
Captain Ned:
@DangerMouse:

I hope that Andy and Red survived the attack in Zihuatanejo.
3.18.2009 3:38pm
Vanceone:
Indeed, it is silly to think that a government fully run by radical leftists in Pelosi, Reid, and Obama would have any designs on banning weapons! Why, the thought never would cross their minds! Or Ammo, either!

As for the health care for veterans, haven't you seen the latest Obama issue? He wants to make veterans pay for their own treatment for combat injuries, whether through private insurance or something else. Now, seeing as most insurance policies don't cover war related injuries....

That's one of Obama's ways of freeing up millions. He'll spend 4 billion on Acorn and 900 million on Hamas, but wants to shaft the veterans of the US.
3.18.2009 3:40pm
ASlyJD (mail):
nathan,

You've said that the brass recycling program is being reinstated. Could you supply a link?

And as for why gun sales might have increased in 2006: Hurricane Katrina provided a vivid example of what American social breakdown looks like. It might have inspired a few gun purchases. Second, by late spring of 2006, a Democratic majority in the House was a likely possibility. This likely spurred gun wanters to buy in anticipation of Pelosi/Reid gun laws.
3.18.2009 3:51pm
jccamp (mail):
Obviously, any suggestions about why the sudden surge in firearm sales must be anecdotal. From what I see and hear, people are buying guns because they think the current administration and Congress have plans to ban firearms, or types of firearms, or even a back-door ban of ammunition and/or ammunition components. The financial climate certainly makes people a little more nervous, and maybe it's enough to decide the fence-sitters. But I think the single largest motivator is the fear that the private ownership of firearms is going to be severely curtailed by the Federal government.

Whether such efforts could be successful is another topic, but that an effort is coming from the left seems inevitable. That such efforts follows so closely on the heels of the (Heller) decision that finally recognizes (or creates, depending on your POV) the Constitutional right to personal (firearm) possession does seem ironic.
3.18.2009 3:52pm
Captain Ned:
@AslyJD:

LINK
3.18.2009 3:57pm
Steve:
what I wonder is why doesn't the President or the AG come out with a strong statement categorically denying these rumors and stating once and for all that they are not going to reinstate the ban on assault weapons?

My viewpoint is that in the current economic climate, it would be irresponsible for the President to take any action that would have the effect of depressing economic activity. If the guns &ammo sector is booming and keeping people employed, well then, I say let it boom! It's like stimulus through paranoia.
3.18.2009 4:01pm
SeaDrive:

What I wonder is why doesn't the President or the AG come out with a strong statement categorically denying these rumors and stating once and for all that they are not going to reinstate the ban on assault weapons?


In fact, the AG has said the opposite, but the White House and Pelosi have said clearly that it's off the table for now. No one in the gun community trusts them, though.

Obama was very pro-control when his constituency was Illinois. Now that he has a national constituency, I think he will be more tentative. It appears that Holder is not as sensitive to the voters.
3.18.2009 4:06pm
ASlyJD (mail):
Thank you Ned.
3.18.2009 4:10pm
James Gibson (mail):
Seems this post struck a few nerves.

Sea Drive "For all the blame dumped on liberals for gun control legislation, it is Police Chiefs who seem most united in the desire to disarm the public, and they use scary language whenever possible." Which is why in 2004 a Florida sheriff had his marksman shooting a hunting rifle deliberately miss the cinderblock target. He then had the marksman fire a round at the cinderblock from an AK to show that Assault rifles hit harder then hunting guns. And yes the chief got caught doing it.

RowerinVa: the UK isn't the only place semi-auto shitguns are banned. Australia banned both semi-auto and Pump back in the 90s. And yes, Kerry was very good to only be seen with a double barrel even if the other hunters with him had pumps or semis.

Finally Tom Diaz is calling for a new Assault weapon ban based on the now dead HR1022 and a 50 ban based on a proposal of Feinstein. HR1022 bans all min-14s, M1 carbines, Ar-15s including CMP required rifles, SKS rifles and through a special paragraph bans the M1 Garand. One can only wonder what the 50 ban would also nail (considering all shotguns are officially of a bore greater then 0.50 inches).
3.18.2009 4:13pm
Jerry Mimsy (www):
Heh. Hearing about the increase in gun sales reminded me that I've been wanting to pick up a carbine as a companion for my Glock .40. Kel-tec makes what looks like a great carbine--it even accepts the same magazines.

Went down to the gun store where I bought the pistol several years ago, and they had no record of the Kel-tec SUB-2000. Turns out the rifle I want is already illegal in California. So I can understand people deciding not to put off their firearms purchases.
3.18.2009 4:19pm
James Gibson (mail):
By the way I loved reading Diaz quoting his own research at the hearings and repeating that tired mantra that gun ownership is shrinking and the guns are becoming more concentrated in fewer hands. They said that in 1993 and stated that only 35 percent of families owned guns (they then lost the Congress). In 2001 the gun controlists said it again plus that they had won the election for Al Gore only to then have him loose it (the percentage of families with guns was now reported at 41%). And now Diaz has reported that according to his most recent data (all in house) the percentage of families owning guns is down to 34.5% (essentially the same number they gave in 1993). And no one will report that their source is the Joyce foundation funded NORC study, which has a flawed question, and 25% of the questionaires are never returned. Further a gallup poll taken recently put the number at 40% of house holds with half of all adult males polled reporting they owned a firearm.
3.18.2009 4:28pm
Putting Two and Two...:
Rising gun sales? I credit release of the Yoo memos.
3.18.2009 4:39pm
Peter B:
At least some of the background checks are for transfers of used firearms; some of the sellers are people looking for quick cash in hard times which ties election and economy together.
3.18.2009 4:51pm
Dan M.:
Sure, gun shops benefit from hyping anti-gun legislation. And if it were only the gun shops who were hyping it, then we'd have a right to be skeptical. But gun rights activists, the organizations and the bloggers, aren't corporate stooges. Gun dealers would benefit from certain anti-gun legislation (like banning private sales), so we can't rely on them to monitor our right, and we don't.
3.18.2009 4:54pm
Crunchy Frog:
There is serious mony to be made here, folks. If I had somewhere decent to store them, I'd be snapping up as many "assault weapons" as I could. Assuming existing weapons are grandfathered in, expect the resale value to quadruple.

If they're not grandfathered in, so much for the better - I'd sell the whole lot for ten times what I paid, and report them stolen.
3.18.2009 5:01pm
Careless:

It seems likely that people are buying a lot of guns because they fear a new "assault weapons" ban. A great many people on THR have said exactly that, and why would they lie? What seems odd to me is that people seem to be stocking up on the very weapons most likely to be banned, like the M-16 lookalikes and pistols with high-capacity magazines. Perhaps they're assuming that a new ban, like the old one, will grandfather existing weapons, but that's a pretty big "if." If you're really worried about a ban, why not buy things more likely to remain legal?

Why would the prospect of an impending ban make you more likely to buy something that will not be banned when, without the ban, you'd have bought nothing at all? (Unless they're planning on going to war with the government)
3.18.2009 5:31pm
Steve2:
Spartacus, interesting. While I suppose I'm glad they don't keep that data, I was curious what states are the largest markets. For instance, if Tennessee adopts the no-microstamping bill discussed in a previous post, is the Tennessee market large enough to make no-microstamping the de facto national standard, despite California's must-microstamp legislation (in which case, is the California market small enough that more companies would follow Barrett's lead?). I've actually heard Virginia law (where I live) mandates the destruction of purchase records thirty days after the purchase, but I didn't know a) if that's true or b) if other states had similar approaches to record-keeping.

Snaphappy, others have, I think, done a good job of explaining the problem with the term "assault weapon", and how it isn't limited to actual assault rifles or to automatic weapons.

As to what a (main) battle rifle is, and how it differs from an assault rifle, it's basically that battle rifles have longer barrels and fire a bigger bullet from a bigger cartridge. A great example is the Israeli Galil rifle, which basically exists as an assault rifle version, shooting a 5.56mm diameter bullet out of a 45mm long cartridge through an 18 inch long barrel, and a battle rifle version, shooting a 7.62mm diameter bullet out of a 51mm long cartridge through a 21 inch long barrel.

The overall result is that an assault rifle has a shorter effective range than a battle rifle, partly because being shorter makes it harder to aim well at a distant target and partly because the bullet has much less kinetic energy even though it starts out going faster. On the other hand, an assault rifle's easier to handle than a battle rifle (shorter, and often lighter), and as a result easier to aim at a close target. So if your infantry is most likely to be shooting at enemies a quarter mile away across a field or a valley, it would be best for them to have battle rifles, but if your infantry is most likely to be shooting at enemies barricaded in three buildings down the street at the end of the block, it would be best for them to have assault rifles (which is why the Germans and the Soviets developed them back during World War II in the first place).

The US Army used to use battle rifles as standard issue, with the M1 and the M14. Then there was a switch to assault rifles, with the M16 and its varients.

Honestly, I think firearms engineering is quite fascinating, so I apologize if I've gone offtopic for the thread, or if in my neophyte's zeal I've posted glaring misinformation to the chagrin of more knowledgeable readers.

Oh, and Vanceone, please, liberalism isn't inextricably tied to thinking gun control's a good thing or agreeing with it or supporting it. A small but extremely frustrated minority of us liberals loathe it and are trying to convince our fellows that it's a terrible idea to oppose gun ownership both as public policy and personal practice.
3.18.2009 5:34pm
Kirk:
I'm all for that legislation.
Then you're part of the problem.

Snaphappy,
I would have thought that "assault weapon" was meant to ban things like Uzis, Mac-10s, M16s and other full-auto-capable machine guns and sub machine guns, but not handguns, shotguns, hunting rifles, and similar things. Is there something I'm missing?
Missing? With all due respect, a familiarity with the history of the last century's worth of gun control in the US. Fortunately some abler hands than I have already filled in some of the missing pieces for you.

Alan,
What seems odd to me is that people seem to be stocking up on the very weapons most likely to be banned, like the M-16 lookalikes and pistols with high-capacity magazines. Perhaps they're assuming that a new ban, like the old one, will grandfather existing weapons, but that's a pretty big "if."
It's the only smart way to bet: if the opening gun-control move involves confiscation, then it's Hello Civil War II time. So buying the to-be-banned weapons both gets you what you want, when you can, and also gets you prepared for the (unlikely) worst case.

SeaDrive, CT bans semi-auto pistols? You've got to be kidding me!
3.18.2009 5:47pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Prof. Volokh:

As I understand, you seem to cover the gun issues in these parts. Any comment on this? (In fairness and full disclosure, it seems that volunteer instructor Wolf has in the interim been dismissed from the program).

Cheers,
3.18.2009 6:14pm
Alan Gunn (mail):
Kirk said,

It's the only smart way to bet: if the opening gun-control move involves confiscation, then it's Hello Civil War II time. So buying the to-be-banned weapons both gets you what you want, when you can, and also gets you prepared for the (unlikely) worst case.



Maybe, but I think most people would respond to a ban without grandfathering by hiding their guns. I'm told that's what the Europeans have done a lot of, and for all our "land of the free" talk, we're no more resistant to government intrusion than they are (see, f'rinstance, CPSIA, outlawing all hand-made children's products and a lot more, passed almost unanimously). New Yorkers, Illinois residents, and a lot of others have been disarmed without a whimper.

I wouldn't have a problem, as all my autoloaders sank when my boat capsized last month; similar accidents or paperless pre-ban FTF sales would surely become common. But that leaves you with guns you can't get caught with. I think diversification in gun ownership is valuable. Fun, too.
3.18.2009 7:04pm
Kirk:
Alan,

You're too sanguine: what are you going to do with your hidden guns? You can't practice with them on a public range (too risky), can't very safely drive with them (too easy to search your car, and if the banners are serious they'll find a way to authorize such searches) to the wilds where you might safely practice with them (or might not, you don't know who's driving up the road behind you that might observe and report you), you can't really sell them outside a very close circle of friends (and even then how do you know one of them hasn't turned--depends partly on how grand the rewards get, doesn't it?)

The only reasons for hiding that I can see are (a) you expect the ban-with-confiscation to be transient, or (b) you expect civil society to fall apart for some other reason in the forseeable future, so you're conserving them for that.
3.18.2009 7:16pm
Kirk:
Zuch,

I don't think the Hunter Ed situation you cite is a gun issue at all-it's a jerk-being-uncivil issue.
3.18.2009 7:21pm
cboldt (mail):
-- You're too sanguine: what are you going to do with your hidden guns? --
.
I read that he has none. All the forbidden ones were lost in an unfortunate boating accident.
.
So sad.
.
The hidden legal ones are potentially useful for personal defense.
3.18.2009 7:22pm
DonP (mail):
"Illinois residents, and a lot of others have been disarmed without a whimper.
"

We haven't given up here quite yet.

We may not have CCW ... yet, but we have no AWB in Illinois, despite Daley and Blago's fondest wishes. And there hasn't been any new gun control legislation in several years.

The Illinois State Rifle Assn. turned out over 5,200 people in Springfield last week to lobby the legislators. Twice as many as last year, including CCW support from the Illinois Sheriff's Assn. Chicago representatives left town for the day, of course.

We still allow FtF sales and once you get South of I-80 and West of I-355 it's an almost normal state as far as gun rights go.

Steve2

The only point I think you might have missed is the load out factor for an Assault Rifle versus a main battle rifle. An M-1 Garand standard infantry load out is around 192 rounds max, 3 bandoleers of 64 rounds each (8 clips of 8 rounds each). That's pretty heavy ammo to hump.

With the M-16 or M-4 it's not unusual to see a trooper carrying well over 300+ rounds of ammo. In 1970, when I was young, healthy and scared to death of running out of ammo I typically carried 300 rounds regularly and if I thought we might be out for more than a day trip it might add up to 500 rounds.
3.18.2009 7:50pm
buzz (mail):
Since the Heller decision, there have been approximately
80 cases decided by lower courts all upholding the reasonable regulation of firearms, the 2nd Amendment notwithstanding.
3.18.2009 8:09pm
glangston (mail):
I ordered a new upper for an AR-15. I was told there was a 10-12 week backlog. Just at 7 weeks now. Of course an upper is not a firearm but the industry is running at 24/7 in many areas including ammunition.
3.18.2009 8:20pm
Kirk:
Buzz,

How many of those were obvious things like felon-in-possession cases?

Meanwhile, all but one of the Chicago-area suburban cities preemptively caved and repealed their handgun bans.
3.18.2009 8:26pm
Alan Gunn (mail):
Kirk wrote,

Alan,

You're too sanguine

Not sanguine, really, just making a prediction. Sure, concealed illegal guns aren't much use. I suppose what people would be hoping for is a new set of politicians who would undo the ban. If the current Congress gets too aggressive, that might happen, especially if the economy continues to tank. It's the difficulty of using the banned weapons that makes me think it's a good idea to have a variety of guns in the hope that some would survive the ban. The problem is, you can't tell for sure in advance what would be legal, which makes the best strategy diversification, and maybe with an emphasis on guns people commonly use for hunting, other than autoloaders, and on guns that don't have over-ten-round magazines. I figure my Marlin levergun should be safe, as it looks a lot like the guns John Wayne used (though his weren't Marlins). Glad it wasn't in the boat, if I remember right.

The thing about "assault weapons" bans is that they're based on trivia, mostly involving looks. That's dumb, but it also creates opportunities for functional equivalence. If you want to buy a gun, why not get one that's likely to stay legal?
3.18.2009 8:26pm
radio_babylon (mail):

Recessions and even depressions don't make one need a firearm (especially a rifle), particularly. Those who were concerned with self defense (or the more paranoid case of a collapse of civilization) are very unlikely to have suddenly become so in the past 4 or 5 months - most such people already have defensive arms.
well... im one data point for the "suddenly became so" category. im 36, never owned a firearm (not against them, shot them as a kid, etc just never felt the need to have one)... in november 2008 i bought my first one, a remington 1100, and a boatload of ammo, and im looking at getting an AR-15 and a handgun in the next few weeks. why? because as the economy has gone to crap, home invasions have gone up, and it occurred to me that i have a lot of stuff that other people might want, stuff im rather fond of. that, and ive discovered that shooting targets at the range (and assorted produce at the family land) is pretty entertaining :) i sincerely hope i never have to shoot anyone, but i will if needed.

so yes, at least one person has armed themselves primarily because of the economic downturn.

also, while i dont expect the collapse of civilization, i figure were it to happen id be glad i had some kind of firearm, even though i almost certainly wouldnt be one of those who survived for long after the collapse :)
3.18.2009 8:29pm
Kirk:
Alan,

I agree about the wisdom of diversification, and indeed I think the most likely ban is based on cosmetics with most existing things grandfathered in (did you miss the "unlikely" in my original.) And then the guys who voted it in will get turned out, just like in '94.

But the question I thought I was answering was, "Why buy the about-to-be-banned types now"? Obviously, because you can't after they're banned, whereas if you don't manage to get your lever-action before AWBII, due to budgetary restraints or whatever, you can still get it afterward (though certainly for a higher price.)
3.18.2009 8:40pm
Alan Gunn (mail):
Kirk,

Yeah, I don't think we disagree about much, if anything. I suppose the people buying evil black rifles are counting on grandfathering, and some of them maybe on being able to sell grandfathered guns after a ban, though that's another issue. Did the last ban allow sales of grandfathered guns? (My recollection is that it did, but I'm not positive.)
3.18.2009 8:52pm
seadrive:

CT bans semi-auto pistols? You've got to be kidding me!


CT bans semi-auto rifles with some features, and semi-auto handguns with other features. Typical semi-auto pistols are not banned. With pistols, the main idea is to ban weapons with features that facilitate shooting from the hip.

No kidding.
3.18.2009 8:58pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :

When Kerry emerged from his goose hunt in 2004, he was careful to be photoed carrying a 2-shot over/under shotgun, which few serious waterfowlers would employ for such use, preferring a semi or a pump.

Are you a duck or goose hunter? Because this comment surprised me. I've been a duck hunter for years, shooting an O/U, and I see people carrying them all the time. Some of these people are quite "serious."
3.18.2009 9:19pm
Kirk:
Did the last ban allow sales of grandfathered guns?
Yes, and of other banned items, too: I bought numerous pre-ban 15rd magazines.
3.18.2009 9:24pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Kirk:
Zuch,

I don't think the Hunter Ed situation you cite is a gun issue at all-it's a jerk-being-uncivil issue.
Oh, I agree with you, but it is of note that it came up in the context of gun training. ;-)

And to be honest, it was just a tad more than just "being uncivil".

Cheers,
3.18.2009 9:27pm
jccamp (mail):
I was curious about Connecticut's banned list, so here it it. Shotguns, rifles and handguns...

HERE
3.18.2009 9:40pm
jccamp (mail):
Apparently, mere possession of anything on the list is a felony(!).
3.18.2009 9:42pm
Kirk:
Zuch,

Right, he was actually being a complete flaming a**hole, I just thought it was uncivil to say so.
3.18.2009 9:55pm
PubliusFL:
Steve2 said:

As to what a (main) battle rifle is, and how it differs from an assault rifle, it's basically that battle rifles have longer barrels and fire a bigger bullet from a bigger cartridge. A great example is the Israeli Galil rifle, which basically exists as an assault rifle version, shooting a 5.56mm diameter bullet out of a 45mm long cartridge through an 18 inch long barrel, and a battle rifle version, shooting a 7.62mm diameter bullet out of a 51mm long cartridge through a 21 inch long barrel.

The overall result is that an assault rifle has a shorter effective range than a battle rifle, partly because being shorter makes it harder to aim well at a distant target and partly because the bullet has much less kinetic energy even though it starts out going faster.


Understanding this is important so you can realize that whenever you read or hear about a "high-powered assault rifle" in the news, you know the author or his or her source either has an agenda or doesn't know anything about guns. Assault rifle cartridges, like 5.56x45mm (used in the M-16) or 7.62x39mm (used in the AK-47) are by definition intermediate power cartridges. They were designed to be more powerful than the pistol cartridges used in submachine guns but lighter and less powerful than traditional rifle cartridges used in military rifles like WW2's Enfield, Springfield, Mauser, or Garand. Far from being high-powered, they are underpowered compared to practically any standard issue rifle from WW1 or WW2 or compared to the most popular deer rifles.
3.18.2009 10:00pm
Captain Ned:
@jccamp:

As I thought. The list has nothing to do with the actual ballistic performance of the guns in question; it's all because they "look scary".
3.18.2009 10:46pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :

Far from being high-powered, they [assault rifle cartridges] are underpowered compared to practically any standard issue rifle from WW1 or WW2 or compared to the most popular deer rifles.

Exactly. Anti-gunners, and/or those intent on scaring people about "assault weapons," just refuse to understand or accept this.

In fact, I believe in some states it actually is illegal to hunt deer with the the 5.56x45mm (.223) round used in the M-16 and AR-15. Not because it is too powerful, but because it is too weak.

On the other hand, my favorite deer rifle is chambered for the .30-06 round, the cartridge that made the world safe for democracy. It's the same round used in the Springfield and the Garand, and it's very roughly equivalent to the rounds used in the Arisaka, Mauser, Enfield, and Mosin-Nagant battle rifles that were in the hands of most WWII combatants.

It would be no great joy to be shot with an AR-15 or M-16 -- just ask numerous Viet Cong -- but all else being equal, you'd rather face that than a .30-06. The latter round is just devastating compared to a 5.56x45.
3.18.2009 10:57pm
blcjr (mail):
Okay, let's get back on topic. Did anybody notice the big jump in annual percentages after 2005? Anyone want to guess what that was?

Katrina.

I'm a good example of that. I've owned firearms all my life, but never (a) handguns or (b) assault rifles. Since 2005, I've purchased both. Several handguns, in fact, and since acquiring a C&R 03 FFL, several milsurp rifles in addition to a semi-automatic rifle. I've resumed reloading, after a 30 year break, and have stocked up on a significant supply of both loaded ammunition, and components to reload. I also have a CHL.

By November 2008, I was already where I wanted to be in these matters. But I'm sure that the '08 election created a similar kind of uncertainty about the future in the minds of a lot of people. Not the economy, per se. But I have to say that I know a fair number of people who think the '08 election, and the economic policies of a liberal/socialist Democratic party, could possibly plunge the country into a depression, and the kind of civil unrest that we saw after Katrina.

So I'm not sure that we can rigidly distinguish between the economy, and fears that a Democratic administration will seek to seriously quash the right to keep and bear arms, as reasons for the buying spree. In the minds of many, they are related.
3.18.2009 10:58pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
Connie,

One thing that also helps drive the phenomena, it already happened once. Just because that particular group of idiots got voted out doesn't mean that the current group learned the lesson.
3.18.2009 11:00pm
Kirk:
In fact, I believe in some states it actually is illegal to hunt deer with the the 5.56x45mm (.223) round used in the M-16 and AR-15.


You believe correctly. Washington state is one of them. Here .223 is legal for cougars, any larger game than that requires a larger cartridge.
3.18.2009 11:44pm
John Moore (www):
As far as I can tell, there is no .380 ammo available in the country. Our well stocked gun club has everything but that.

Why no .380? Beats me.

One thing for sure - here in Arizona people are stocking up on guns exactly because of the Democratic monopoly on power. Everyone is afraid of another "assault weapons" ban (which banned a lot of ordinary semi-auto pistols due to their >10 round mags). Folks are afraid that an end run will be made by curtailing ammunition sales or manufacturing.

When the Democrats can pass a 1400 page trillion dollar bill in a week, they just might clobber prospective gun owners with no warning.

It would be politically dumb, but they're pretty cocky right now.

We are also getting more self defense weapons and CCW classes are all booked up. The Mexican drug cartels and especially the illegal alien smugglers have made the Phoenix metro are number two IN THE WORLD in kidnappings.

Parts of town are a war zone due to the illegals trade (which includes a lot of "white slavery" and kidnapping for ransom). If you have to drive through them, being armed is a pretty good idea (bulletproof cars would be even better, but that's rather expensive). Bodies are routinely found in the desert west of town.

A drug gang hit team, wearing police SWAT gear, fired up a local house with hundreds of rounds, killing the occupant. They then set an ambush for responding police, which failed because they ran low on ammo and the cop helicopter spotted the ambush.

Especially relevant to self defense is the large increase in armed home invasion robberies. There have already been cases where armed occupants have thwarted these events. Of course, the ridiculous police tactic of no-knock raids means anyone could end up accidently in battle with official home invaders.
3.19.2009 12:18am
rosetta's stones:
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :

No, I'm not a big waterfowler, but can't say as I've ever hunted with guys who carried over/unders. Mostly, my comments originate from more serious waterfowlers I know, who first pointed out to me Kerry's supposedly strategized use of an O/U that day.

I'm more of an upland guy, and despite the supposedly more culturally refined nature of those pursuits (as opposed to the more vulgar waterfowling!), I don't find many uplanders to be using O/U's either. I see a lot of them on the skeet/trap range of course, but for reasons of weight alone, if not for the (rarely utilized) extra shot available, semis or pumps seem to be the choice of about any hunters I come into contact with. I don't own an O/U, not that there's anything wrong with that.
3.19.2009 1:09am
Dennis Nicholls (mail):
I thought you needed plugs that limit you to two shells when hunting "migratory waterfowl". Both my shotguns came with the plugs installed, and you have to remove them to permit loading 5 shells. IIUC the game wardens can fine you if you are hunting duck and geese and your shotgun (pump or semiauto) doesn't have the plug installed.
3.19.2009 7:18am
looking closely (mail):
As someone who has contributed to the recent surge in gun sales by buying both guns and ammo I'll tell you the answer:

Its because everyone is afraid Obama and his gun-grabbing Congressional colleagues are going to ban guns, like Clinton did, only worse.

Like one of the earlier posters, I've never owned a "black" type military-style semi-auto rifle in my life, and never wanted one, but I figured I *HAD* to buy one now or I might miss the chance forever. I remember the Clinton gun ban, and so does everyone else who's owned a gun or contemplated owning one in the last 15 years.

So I bought one *AND* 1000 rounds of ammo to go with it. Also bought another 1000 rounds of pistol ammo too. Sounds like a lot, but its really not if you consider that its no big deal to shoot 100 rounds in an afternoon (more with friends), and the prices of ammo are always going up.

Anecdotally, I've spoken to SEVERAL gun dealers in the last three months, and ALL of them are selling more guns than ever before, and ALL of them are saying the exact same thing: People are hoarding guns because they are afraid Obama will ban them. There is probably some minor element of people just being afraid of resurgent terrorism, or socioeconomic collapse because of the recession (ie increase crime, decreased police efficacy, etc), but its mostly the gun-banning thing.

Ammuntion is also in high shortage nationally, with many common calibers being unavailable, as its being heavily stockpiled.
3.19.2009 9:38am
SeaDrive:

I was curious about Connecticut's banned list, so here it it. Shotguns, rifles and handguns...


See here for more info.

http://www.cga.ct.gov/2009/pub/Chap943.htm#Sec53-202a.htm

It's not just the list, but also any weapon with certain combinations of features. I think this is all derived from the Federal AWB which was sourced in the California AWB which (some say) was sourced by paging through a gun magazine.


Why no .380? Beats me.


I believe that this is a popular caliber for guns used for concealed carry. This is another category that's been seeing boom times, including the introduction of the Ruger LCP. If every new gun owner buys a box or two, that's enough to cause a temporary shortage. In the new economy, EVERYTHING is just-in-time production to the extent possible.
3.19.2009 9:40am
norton (mail):
The government is not our enemy,

just an opposing force.
3.19.2009 9:49am
Bababooey (mail):
As one of the individuals that make up the increase in sales over the last few months, I can only tell you my reasoning and the reasoning I heard at the gun store.

I have never been a gun owner and never really had a desire to own guns. My family had no guns growing up and few of my friends either (that I was aware of). The combination of the economy and the election of (in my view) a very left-wing government made me consider buying firearms.

The economy: LEO friends of mine have noted increases in crime in my metro area (a relatively safe place - Austin TX), specifically crimes against property and violent robberies. While I am fortunate to live well away from where most of those crimes are occuring, my feeling is that as the economy gets worse (it will), that crime will make its way to where the money and property are. While I am always conscious of being paranoid, I just had an uneasy feeling and didn't want to be caught unprepared.

The government: Holder has as much as said it, many others in Congress are quite blunt as well: they are anti-gun. I really feel that this admionistration, if given half a chance, will do something to limit gun sales/ownership. Maybe it will be regulation to increase cost (a favorite ploy of the dems) or maybe outright bans. Either way, for the forst time in my life, I feel like I should be armed.

It scares me that I feel this way.
3.19.2009 9:58am
John Steele (mail):

traveler496:
I think Eugene's "concerns about the company" should read "concerns about the economy."

I'm struck by the extent to which this knowledgeable and generally wise crowd seems concerned with means of incapacitating, and possibly ending the lives of, others. I have to this point been operating on the (admittedly not very well founded) belief that, all thing considered, having such means around my house would be a net detriment.

I'd welcome pointers to information which would help me better ground my beliefs in reality (please note that this is a rather high bar:-)
3.18.2009 1:50pm


See http://www.gunfacts.info/

The bar is not that high if you have an open mind. I find this part interesting though:

seems concerned with means of incapacitating, and possibly ending the lives of, others.
Frankly the interest I have in "incapacitating, and possibly ending the lives of, others"
is solely in preventing others from doing the same thing to my family and me.

Liberals seem to take the view that people who own guns are just itching to take someone's life. The facts are significantly different but in my experience liberals are rarely interested in facts that don't agree with their "feelings."
3.19.2009 10:20am
Richard Fagin (mail):
As news of President Obama's first appointment to the federal appellate bench (a screaming leftist) gets out, gun sales will rise even more. A lot more. If even one of the conservative justices on the Supreme Court leaves office during Obama's term, how long do you think the Heller holding will stand, or worse, how likely do you think it will be applied to the states?
3.19.2009 10:30am
Bob Owens (mail) (www):
A lot of good information in the comments above, and I'd like to add my knowledge and research to that already posted.

As noted above, an "assault rifle" is a difficult term to define, but military forces tend to describe it as a rifle chambered for an intermediate-power rifle cartridge and capable of changing modes of fire from single-shots to multiple shots by the use of a selector switch. Civilians typically use the term interchangeably with "assault weapon," and by that, they generally mean any scary-looking firearm that could have possibly been used by a military unit on this side of the U.S. Civil War.

There are roughly 240,000 legally owned and registered fully-automatic machine guns or selective-fire weapons capable of burst fire in civilian hands in the United States. Half of those belong to law enforcement. The other 120,000 belong to your neighbors. Yes, America: it is perfectly legal for you to own a machine gun, if you can afford the outlandish prices and rolls of red tape.

As for their use in crimes, there doesn't seem to be much... almost none.

While exact records are murky, the common claim is that precisely two legally-own machine guns have been used in murders since the NFA passed in 1934. As I recall, both occurred in Ohio in the 1980s with MAC-10 submachine guns, and one of those murders was by a crooked cop using his department-issue weapon to kill an informant.

Under U.S. law, the 1994 "Assault Weapon Ban" was an unmitigated failure. It did not ban so much as one single fully-automatic or selective-fire weapon. It "banned" only 19 firearms by name and the utterly cosmetic features of other weapons, along with the manufacture of new "high capacity" magazines.

It did not prevent one death, but did create a new class of handguns called subcompacts, and gave firearms companies such as Kahr and Kel-Tec to come into existence to service this new niche.

The "high capacity" magazines arbitrarily defined as magazines holding more than ten cartridges, even though the standard capacity magazines of most modern semi-automatic pistols of the day was around 15 rounds, and the standard capacity magazine of many rifles was 20-30 cartridges.

As to the sale and possession of these "high capacity" magazines manufactured prior to the "ban," Americans were largely unaffected. Magazines manufactured prior to the ban were stocked in warehouses, and readily available for purchase during the entire life of the ban.

Likewise, the sale and possession of military-style "scary-looking" rifles was not effected by the ban; offending but functionally irrelevant features such as bayonet lugs and flash hiders were removed from the designs and these guns were available for purchase every single day of the ban.

Many companies that specialized in making "assault weapons" actually grew during the time their products were "banned."

At least some of those guns banned specifically by name were slightly modified, renamed, and back on the street the day the ban went into effect. One the TEC-9, was sarcastically remade in almost identical form as the AB-10, with AB mocking Congress as "After Ban."

As a note to those who do not know much about firearms, thee is NO practical, functional difference between what anti-gun forces label "assault weapons" and the most-common training, plinking and target firearms in the United States today. "Assault weapons" do not have a greater rate of fire, nor do they have greater range, nor do they have greater lethality than other firearms that are not presently hectored by the uninformed and the agenda-driven.

And purely as a matter of lethality, most "assault weapons" use cartridges chambered for either intermediate caliber rifle cartridges or pistol cartridges, which means that the bullets they fire will do considerably less damage to a human body than firearms used for big-game hunting.

As for ammo shortages, I did a bunch of research on that in 2007 and again several weeks ago, bypassing the anecdotal stories typically provided by the media as "evidence" and went straight to the manufacturers.

The current ammo shortage started in 2007 as the result of police forces arming up with more semi-automatic pistols and "patrol carbines" which was their cute name for AR-15 type rifles for rank-and-file officers, not just SWAT teams.

The extra training needed created a spike in demand for ammuninition chambered in those calibers commonly used in bulk by agencies, and the market didn't react quickly. When Obama became a serious contender in 2008 and his prohibitionist tendencies became widespread, demand increased again, straining an already tight market. When Obama won, more people people began buying in bulk and stockpiling in many calibers, leading to the empty shelves we see today.

And while this is anecdotal, I've noticed that the reasons given to stockpile are changing in both message boards and at gun shops I've talked to.

Just prior to the election, avid shooters were stockpiling their favorite calibers buying thousands or tens of thousands of rounds, fearing a ban or tax. Just after the election, many more occasional and first-time shooters began joining the mix, again fearing a ban or tax, with a few stating the possibility of civil unrest because of economic concerns. These shooters, many of them first-time purchasers or those who would typically buy just one or two boxes at a time, were often now buying by the case.

Why?

Based on conversations I've heard and Internet message forums, I'd estimate that a slight majority now admits they are stockpiling ammunition in case of civil unrest or even civil war. If that doesn't concern you about the political &economic climate in this country, nothing will.

As for who is buying the ammunition and the firearms, I'm afraid that those ascribing to root cause as "right wing paranoia" simply haven't been in the marketplace.

There are no easily pigeon-holed boxes you can place today's gun purchaser into. I've seen those with "Obama" stickers on their Volvos in gun shop parking lots right beside pick-up trucks, and quite a few people who can't seemingly afford cars coming in by public transportation.

White, black, Hispanic, and Asian, Democrat, Republican, independent and apathetic, almost every group seems to be arming themselves within the limits of what they can personally afford, with the exception of those in the large denial class.

Americans of all social stripes are quietly preparing for Something Bad.

Let's all sincerely pray that this armed and arming majority is wrong in their preparation.
3.19.2009 10:47am
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

As news of President Obama's first appointment to the federal appellate bench (a screaming leftist)...


Please pay attention.
3.19.2009 10:49am
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

Americans of all social stripes are quietly preparing for Something Bad.


Personally, I'm considering buying a gun to protect myself from all the right-wingers who are buying guns. And I wish I could say I was kidding about that.
3.19.2009 10:51am
Kirk:
Bob,

While I remain an optimist by temperament and long training, your last 2 paragraphs sum up my perceptions, too. I'd just add that the preparations might actually help prevent the Something Bad from actually arriving.
3.19.2009 10:57am
Kirk:
Ahhh! Where's my editor???

I'm actually sorry about actually overusing the word "actually".
3.19.2009 10:59am
cboldt (mail):
-- how long do you think the Heller holding will stand --
.
The Heller holding is narrow and weak, IMO. And what use we've seen of Heller, so far, has been resort to its dicta wherein "reasonable" restrictions are upheld as "not infringing" the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
.
My point being, the difference between Heller standing, and Heller being reversed, is not of much practical value. Heller also reinforced the utterly fictional summary of Miller that has been used by the courts branch of the government to uphold unconstitutional federal legislation.
3.19.2009 10:59am
cboldt (mail):
-- I'm considering buying a gun to protect myself from all the right-wingers who are buying guns. And I wish I could say I was kidding about that. --
.
I would encourage any peaceable person to consider obtaining serious means of personal self defense, but if your rationale is that you feel threatened on account of "right-wingers who are buying guns," then I'd say you are clinically paranoid.
3.19.2009 11:08am
rosetta's stones:
Dennis Nicholls,

I believe the waterfowling regs (federal?) where I hunt restrict shotguns to a 3 shell capacity, not just 2. Either that, or I've been breaking the law. But could be that these regs are more restrictive across the states.
3.19.2009 11:12am
blcjr (mail):
Personally, I'm considering buying a gun to protect myself from all the right-wingers who are buying guns. And I wish I could say I was kidding about that.

Well then, good for you. You should take responsibility for your own self-protection, regardless of where you perceive the threat to come from. Just be responsible in your use of firearms, as most "right-wingers who are buying guns" are. No doubt there are some disturbed gun owners at the fringes of the right, but no more than the disturbed antis at the fringes of the left. And do not think they (on the left) are not dangerous, just because they don't have guns. Their danger lies in getting those who do have guns -- law enforcement and the military -- to do their bidding. You have to wonder just how far we really are from a police state when the Army gets dispatched to do local law enforcement. (Or just recall the behavior of law enforcement during the chaos of Katrina.)

In between those extremes, most of us just want to be left alone. What scares many of us to the right of center is that the cornerstone philosophy of the left is not to leave us alone, but is to rather imagine all kinds of ways in which we need to be meddled with so as make us more politically correct.

The fear that an Obama administration, with the houses of Congress controlled by the likes of Nanny Pelosi and Hurry Reid, will do something to seriously constrain the effectiveness of the Second Amendment is real and palpable, and is what has people buying up everything they can before the current administration gets its act together (though they seem to be having some trouble at that, fortunately).
3.19.2009 11:16am
Pierre Owner Bouncer Pink Flamingo Bar & Grill (www):
TEOTWAWKI is why...

This isn't the rantings of a right wing ideologue it is the simple observation of folks like Peter Schiff, Gerald Celente, and common sense. You only need look as far as Argentina when it endured the pain of hyperinflation caused by the Government monetizing the debt. There is not a single nation in history that has used paper money that hasn't sooner or later run into Hyperinflation and it looks like we are next.

We might have avoided the worst of it had McCain been elected. Now with Obama adding trillions to our debt and at the same time hamstringing our industry we have no way to pay it back we have no way out. We are well and truly screwed...

Course the question then becomes why would we descend into anarchy just because we are in a hyper-inflationary depression? Because the make up of our country is not the same as it was when we suffered through the depression. Now we have LOTS and LOTS of folks whose hands only know one position...palm out begging. When the Government cannot provide for those because the money has dried up they will get violent.

We are getting ready for that certainty.
3.19.2009 11:23am
Conservative Activist Judge:
I don't understand why anyone would pursue these laws outside of wanting to eliminate the 2nd Amendment. They've been show to be ineffective. The vast majority of the new laws are cosmetic and clearly have nothing to do with safety. It's an electoral loser, even talking about it leads to massive increases in gun manufacturing and gun ownership. More people join the NRA and make first time purchases. Assuming they don't ram this law through, the supply of new guns will surge in coming months so there will be ample supply even if a ban is passed.
3.19.2009 11:56am
Bob Young (mail):
Picking up a couple of semi-automatic longarms tomorrow or Saturday. Not the high-roller AR type guns, but decent defensive arms and not cheap either. Last 10 years or so, all I've shot are muzzleloaders, so this is a big change.

We're on a slow slide into anarchy that's picking up speed. Obama, Pelosi &Co. seem determined to make it worse. I live in the country and have property to defend. Waiting for cops isn't an option.

That said, I would much rather have the guns and not need 'em, than need 'em and not have 'em. I'd happily pay ten times as much if I could be sure they'd never be needed. But with the Obama administration living up to my most paranoid expectations, expecting the worst seems prudent.
3.19.2009 1:32pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'home invasions have gone up'

Evidence?

No, seriously.

The economy is bad where I am, but home invasions remain at pretty close to 0/year. Of course, here crime is low even though we have strict firearms laws.
3.19.2009 1:37pm
Joe The Plumber (mail):

Its because everyone is afraid Obama and his gun-grabbing Congressional colleagues are going to ban guns, like Clinton did, only worse.


Agree completely.

There is no big "mystery" here.
3.19.2009 1:56pm
vast right wing conspirator (mail):
blcjr writes;

"Personally, I'm considering buying a gun to protect myself from all the right-wingers who are buying guns. And I wish I could say I was kidding about that."

Our clever plan worked.
3.19.2009 2:39pm
Kirk:
Harry,

That's a good point. Certainly reporting of home invasions is up, and I have no doubt that actual incidents are up in AZ, but whether that trend is nationwide, or what specific areas might be affected, are different questions.
3.19.2009 2:55pm
SeaDrive:

Certainly reporting of home invasions is up...


I have read that a lot of home invasions are in reality more like drug-cache invasions. A lot of so-called "gun crime" is really drug crime, including the gory mess on the Tex-Mex border.
3.19.2009 3:25pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :

I'm more of an upland guy, and despite the supposedly more culturally refined nature of those pursuits (as opposed to the more vulgar waterfowling!), I don't find many uplanders to be using O/U's either. I see a lot of them on the skeet/trap range of course, but for reasons of weight alone, if not for the (rarely utilized) extra shot available, semis or pumps seem to be the choice of about any hunters I come into contact with.

I agree that upland hunting is vastly less vulgar than waterfowling. I'm intrigued by our differing experience. I wonder if we're seeing a geographic difference here? Where do you hunt?
3.19.2009 3:27pm
PubliusFL:
Xanthippas: Please pay attention.

When that prayers in the Indiana legislature similar to prayers in Congress ought to have been upheld, Hamilton hath struck them down:
Moderation should be made of more restrained stuff:
Yet the Boston Globe says he is moderate;
And the Boston Globe is an honourable paper.

Yeah, right.
3.19.2009 5:00pm
rosetta's stones:
I was joshing about the vulgarity thing, thanks for not being offended!

I just get a kick out of reading some of the upland periodicals, which present upland hunting like it's the holy work, and you must have all the proper vestments and equipment and only shoot perfectly pointed birds. Meanwhile, I go out in jeans with my rescue dogs and 870, and get my walk in and maybe harvest some meat. They may just up and excommunicate me some day.

I hunt in Michigan. Not sure, but the O/U thing may be class based as much as anything. A decent O/U seems to come in at least $1,000-1,500 new, and my 870 or Beretta come in maybe 1/2 of that. I could afford more, but they seem more functional to me anyway, and lighter.

Also, we have shotgun only deer hunting in the south of the state, which may drive folks into a more versatile platform, for easy barrel swaps based upon application. Just a guess.
3.19.2009 5:06pm
Texas Jack (mail):
On scatterguns, the plug reduces the normal load from five to three rounds.

On home invasions, the number reported in the Houston & surrounding communities is very definitely on the rise, particularly in the suburbs.

Personal observation: having a CHL and a 9 mm semi-auto with me at all legal times has made me more careful to abide by the law, and more polite to others.

Most of my weapons would be a problem if the most recent list posted actually became a "banned" list. (M1 Carbine right at the top. Got one, it's fun to plink with at short range.)

I did not buy in a panic, or in a rush to "beat the ban". I have ordered a bunch of .30 carbine and M2 ball (.30-06 military) mainly to beat the price increases that are coming, and to have a few hundred rounds on hand. Why?

First, like many of you, I once swore an oath to "protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic" and I still hold myself to that oath. Second, I take responsibility for my own protection. Third, I will attempt to protect those about me, as far as I can determine the right.

Otherwise, it's fun to go to the range and burn powder. I'm a little old for brush hunting, but I might try it one more time.

One thing: I will not be disarmed. By anyone. Ever.
3.19.2009 7:49pm
jpintx (mail):
Something to think about along these lines.

I "guesstimate" that there are 100,000,000 gun owners in the US, of that number probably 60% say and believe "they'll take my gun when they pry it from my cold dead fingers". If only 10% of these folks are serious, absolutely serious, that amounts to 6,000,000 Americans. Are our politicians willing to kill 6,000,000 citizens to enforce their gun ban. Please don't misunderstand me, I am not posting this in a threatening or bragging way, I hope not to be one of the 6,000,000. But I see this as a serious question. Have we now elected those who chose any means to an end? Think about it.

For those who don't own any of the "ugly" guns the initial legislation is/will be aimed at, make no mistake, the goal is for a total ban. And history shows what happens to those who allow themselves to be disarmed.
3.19.2009 8:03pm
Rangeratt (mail):
I heard today that DPMS has almost 150,000 rifles on order.
I wonder what Bushmaster has on back order?
It's clear some AR parts have dried up as the mfg's are using every part to build complete rifles. Try to find a A1/A2 buffer tube for example. Used parts are selling for more than new.
All makes mid price,smaller cal conceal handguns have evaporated along with the ammo.
Not a bank run but a gun run.
3.19.2009 8:06pm
Bob Owens (mail) (www):
jpintx speculates:


I "guesstimate" that there are 100,000,000 gun owners in the US, of that number probably 60% say and believe "they'll take my gun when they pry it from my cold dead fingers". If only 10% of these folks are serious, absolutely serious, that amounts to 6,000,000 Americans. Are our politicians willing to kill 6,000,000 citizens to enforce their gun ban. Please don't misunderstand me, I am not posting this in a threatening or bragging way, I hope not to be one of the 6,000,000. But I see this as a serious question. Have we now elected those who chose any means to an end? Think about it.


President Obama has documented ties with domestic terrorist leaders Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn dating back to the 1980s, both in social settings and in several politically motivated foundations.

According to Larry Grathwohl, the only FBI informant to ever successfully penetrate the Weather Underground, the leadership of the Weather Underground, including Ayers and Dohrn, cooly estimated they may need to kill ten percent of the then-population of 250 million, or 25 million Americans, in concentration camps in the southwest.

Obama's radical Hyde Park peers were comfortable with the genocide of 25 million Americans.

To this perverse confederacy, killing "just" 6 million Americans to get the kind of America they've always dreamed of might seem to be a bargain.
3.19.2009 8:48pm
Baseballhead (mail):
To this perverse confederacy, killing "just" 6 million Americans to get the kind of America they've always dreamed of might seem to be a bargain.
This post makes me want to buy a gun, to protect myself from people who believe in garbage like this.
3.19.2009 8:54pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :

I hunt in Michigan. Not sure, but the O/U thing may be class based as much as anything. A decent O/U seems to come in at least $1,000-1,500 new, and my 870 or Beretta come in maybe 1/2 of that. I could afford more, but they seem more functional to me anyway, and lighter.

Also, we have shotgun only deer hunting in the south of the state, which may drive folks into a more versatile platform, for easy barrel swaps based upon application. Just a guess.

Very interesting. I'm in VA. There's a very real possibility I hunt with a group that is disproportionately snobs. Although lately I see a lot of cheaper import doubles being shot here; maybe it's an aspirational thing (certainly the snob East Coast gun crowd often goes for doubles).

Meanwhile, rifles still hold sway for deer hunting in most of the places I hunt, so there's no overwhelming need for a multi-platform sort of thing.

When I hunt behind dogs with my brother in NC, in a county where shotguns are required, I just take the double and shoot buckshot. That way I only have to miss twice before the deer runs into the woods unharmed. :)
3.19.2009 9:37pm
zippypinhead:
Not sure, but the O/U thing may be class based as much as anything. A decent O/U seems to come in at least $1,000-1,500 new
I'm with you, and have slightly different observations in the northern third of Virginia than Dave B has in his part of the state -- the O/U guys tend to be the sort who are into skeet and trap at "the club." Complete with the fine burled walnut, engraved receivers, and 30" vented rib barrels handcrafted in Italy, yadda yadda, yadda. The working guys have their Mossberg 500s. Good bird gun. Swap a barrel and it's a good slug gun for deer. Swap again and it's a good home defense gun. Always takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'. And it's good to have the extra round in the tube when Tweety manages to evade the first two shots. Or the extra 3 rounds in the tube when Jack the Ripper comes calling late at night (or you can just get the 8-round extended tube magazine and have a real party with your Mossberg home defense gun - except that HR 1022 also purports to ban all shotguns with "a fixed magazine capacity of more than 5 rounds").

Incidentally, on home invasions: In the Northern Virginia suburbs of D.C. the problem has increased, but it reportedly is mostly Asian gangs preying on other Asians; many of the victims are already known to the perps (including whether the victims are armed). The MS-13 drug gang types and other gang-bangers who work south of the Potomac tend to realize there's too darn many gun owners in Virginia to just be randomly knocking down doors late at night when you don't know who or what is waiting on the other side.
3.19.2009 10:40pm
zippypinhead:
Most of the "assault weapon" ban talk by the gun control crowd starts with Rep. McCarthy's bill in the last Congress, HR 1022. This bill also prohibits not only calls out a long list of guns by model and basically cosmetic features, it also bans sale of any semi-automatic rifle or shotgun "originally designed for military or law enforcement use, or a firearm based on the design of such a firearm." The M1 Carbine, M1 Garand, M1A, the entire AR-derived platform, and pretty much any modern semiautomatic carbine all get swept up by that catchall. And I'm totally at a loss how they're going to differentiate between "tactical/law enforcement" versus "sporting" semi-auto shotguns that use the same receiver. And while you don't have to turn in your pre-ban high-capacity "assault weapon" magazines, HR 1022 does make it a 10-year felony to transfer any "assault weapon" with one of those naughty magazines, and any FFL who transfers even a pre-ban magazine that holds more than 10 rounds has to report the transfer to the Feds within 60 days.

Fortunately, given the number of *Democratic* Congressmen who just sent a joint "from my cold dead hands" letter to A.G. Holder in response to his AWB quip, coupled with the filibuster-proof majority in the Senate who voted to roll back D.C.'s gun control laws, I don't think we're going to see HR 1022 or anything like it enacted in this Congress.
3.19.2009 10:48pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
To Houston Lawyer and Nathan: see this excerpt from the LA Times article Houston Lawyer linked to earlier:

How many weapons have been smuggled into Mexico from Central America is not known, and the military-grade munitions are still a small fraction of the larger arsenal in the hands of narcotics traffickers. Mexican officials continue to push Washington to stem the well-documented flow of conventional weapons from the United States, as Congress holds hearings on the role those smuggled guns play in arming Mexican drug cartels.

According to this article, it is unclear where the cartels are getting all of their weapons, but there is a "well-documented flow" of conventional weapons from the USA to Mexico. I rest my case, thanks Houston. By the way, I didn't say the cartels were engaged in lawful purchases in the USA, just that they were up here buying weapons. My guess —which is only that, a guess,— is that they are buying stuff wherever they can find it, in the USA, in Central America, etc. (also, according to the same LA Times article, they may be using US Military weapons, supplied to the contras during the 1980s—thanks Ronnie!).
3.20.2009 12:05am
SeaDrive:

well-documented flow of conventional weapons


If you remember the 1960's, one of the lessons learned was that if you take all your news from "official sources", you get a lot of spin, and miss a lot of valid points of view. In today's world, this is especially true of announcements from law enforcement officials.

It turned out that in one of their most high-profile prosecutions, the Feds were not able to "well document" much of anything. I should say that I don't know anything about Mexican drug cartels and where they get their guns except that they don't get them from me. It does seem likely that some guns do go from the US to Mexico, but it is far from proven that those guns, in themselves, are a big problem.


PHOENIX (Map, News) - An Arizona judge has dismissed criminal charges against a Phoenix gun shop owner accused of supplying firearms to Mexican drug cartels.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Gottsfield ruled Wednesday that the prosecution's evidence against George Iknadosian wasn't sufficient to support conviction.

The 47-year-old Iknadosian was accused of selling more than 700 "weapons of choice" to straw buyers, knowing that the firearms like A-K 47s were bought on behalf of Mexican narcotics syndicates. He was charged with fraud, money-laundering and other offenses.

Gottsfield ruled that all of the gun purchases were conducted legally, even if weapons ended up with the cartels.
3.20.2009 9:24am
Al Bell (mail):
The reason for the rise in gun sales is simple. the Obama administration has a record of anti-gun retoric and voting for gun control measures. Since most gun owners now feel that more attacks on our second ammendment will be coming during this Presidents' tenure, people are buying guns befor more laws are passed that will make it harder or impossible to purchase a legal gun or ammunition.
3.20.2009 10:14am

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