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:

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.