Now that America’s greatest all-time gun salesman has departed from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, leave it to the NRA to try and pretend that #45 is filling his shoes. Because after ponying up $30 million for Trump television campaign ads, the last thing the boys in Fairfax will admit is that the result of spending all that dough given to them by their loyal members (like me) will result in the gun industry going down the tubes. And I guarantee you that as the purchase of new guns continues to slide, the NRA will push out this phony argument and those phony numbers again and again to pretend that Americans still want more guns.
The fact is that the gun industry has always been a boom-and-bust industry, the sales trends driven by fears that guns might be taken away. There simply is no truth to the argument I hear all the time from various Gun-nut Nation mouthpieces that all kinds of new demographics – women, minorities, millennials – are into guns. The percentage of American households that report legal gun ownership has declined by nearly half over the last 20 years, and the explosion of gun sales during the Obama ‘regime’ (at least we won’t hear Limbaugh ratcheting up that disgusting remark for the next four years) basically represented people who owned guns buying more guns.
But leave it to the NRA to come up with a post-election narrative on gun sales which twists the facts in a way to prove that the gun industry will remain alive and well even when nobody needs to be worried about whether they can buy another gun. Here’s the headline from the NRA-ILA blog: “‘Trump Slump’ Proved False By Strong Background Check Numbers,” a response to articles in the financial press predicting that gun sales in 2017 will decline by 20 percent.
Actually it should only be that background checks on over-the-counter sales in January and February dropped by 20 percent. In fact, the 2017 drop so far is more like 40 percent from the monthly totals in November-December, 2016, with the NRA trying to claim that the February 2017 sales were the ‘third-best’ February sales of all time. And the NRA also skimmed over the fact that since the FBI-NICS background check system went online in 1999, that checks for license applications and renewals last month exceeded background checks for gun transfers for the very first time.
There’s a reason why Smith & Wesson recently changed its corporate name and stock listing to something called American Outdoor Brands. Never mind the fact that the company has never successfully sold anything except guns; back in 2005 they even tried to hondle bath towels, blankets, pots and pans. But as the Motley Fool politely noted, “The rugged outdoors business can help smooth out the peaks and valleys of the gun business.”
Peaks and valleys – I love it. How about peaks and ravines? Remember when you couldn’t find a Smith & Wesson AR-15 ‘modern sporting rifle’ for less than a grand? You can buy them online now for $600 and change. Or how about the Model 637, the lightweight version of the little, snub-nose revolver which first rolled out when the factory was still located in downtown Springfield on Stockbridge Street? The company lists the MSRP at $469 but I can buy the gun right now for $359. When was the last time you could buy a new Honda for more than 20 percent under MSRP? I’ll tell you when: never, as in not ever, OK?
The good news about the gun business is that, all the nonsense about the ‘armed citizen’ to the contrary, most of the customers are hobbyists and if a gun maker comes out with a new product there will always be some sales. But designing and manufacturing a new product means investing profits from the sale of current products and right now those profits aren’t there. Sorry folks, but the NRA make-believe isn’t a substitute for hard cash.