What Happened When You Seal A Gun For The Military – Mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, provided the latest and most extreme examples of a breathtaking epidemic of gun violence in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 45,000 people died as a result of gunfire in the first year of the epidemic – hundreds of small mass shootings, deadly neighborhood quarrels, and firearm suicides soaring that brought the death toll to 100. all-time high. Estimates suggest that bloodshed only worsened in 2021, with firearm violence continuing to increase into this summer.
Amid this unfolding tragedy, sales of arms and ammunition skyrocketed, with record profits for the companies that produced them. Securities and Exchange Commission filings show that since the pandemic began, publicly traded gun companies have netted $3 billion somewhere on the ballpark, far surpassing previous years’ earnings.
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Seemed to acknowledge the irony of this success in a December 2021 editorial. “There are many words we can use to describe the past two years,” he wrote. “[B]unprecedented, relentless, seminal, tense, turbulent, frustrating, to name a few. But let’s focus on another here: opportunity
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Over the past 15 years, gun sales have followed the nation’s electoral cycle, rising as Democratic elections exacerbated gun control fears, and plummeted when Republicans took power. After the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, gun sales skyrocketed as President Barack Obama pledged to introduce stricter gun reforms. While few of his promises were kept, the industry enjoyed unprecedented prosperity during the remainder of his presidency. In 2016, in anticipation of Hillary Clinton’s victory, sales plummeted again, setting new all-time records for background checks in the Federal Bureau of Investigation system. (The election of Donald Trump shocked the market so badly that it bankrupted several oversupplied arms companies).
Pandemic sales growth dwarfed these previous increases. At Sturm, Ruger, & Co., gross profit nearly doubled between 2019 and 2021 to nearly $280 million – the highest total ever. Chemical and munitions manufacturing company Olin Corp has similarly experienced unprecedented gains, posting more than $2 billion in ammunition profits over the same period. Smith & Wesson, the most prolific American arms manufacturer, has made more than half a billion dollars since the pandemic began.
In the fall of 2020, the company, which hit $100 million in sales in October, gave its employees commemorative silver and blue coins engraved with the “FIRST 100 MILLION DOLLARS MONTH” reminder.
Photographs of the coin, provided by a former employee, distributed by Smith & Wesson to celebrate sales made in late 2020.
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The rise in profits of publicly traded arms companies outstripped even record growth in sales; This shows that weapons manufacturers are able to keep costs low while striving to meet unprecedented demand. “We’ve gained market share in a tumultuous year,” Smith & Wesson executives wrote in an investor presentation last June, along with charts showing company sales outstripping nationwide gains in background checks. “We just have begun.”
Matthew Lang, an economist at the University of California, Riverside, published an article examining the drivers of this sales frenzy and comparing it to previous increases. He said in an interview that the sales boom of the past years has broken through to the more recent tradition as the party has crossed its boundaries. He compared this to a smaller increase in arms purchases following the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. “Everyone shared this general uncertainty about a lot of things, and in particular whether they will be protected by traditional institutions,” he said. “So, unlike the spikes in firearm purchases that tend to occur during election years, you’re seeing this increase in gun purchases of similar magnitude regardless of each state’s political leanings.” In fact, several Democrat-led states—Michigan and Rhode Island, for example—have seen increases on a monthly basis, outpacing gun rights strongholds like Texas.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the commercial organization that represents the gun industry, attributed the more equitable distribution of the sales boom to the dramatic increase in first-time gun buyers, many of whom came from traditionally underrepresented groups among American firearm owners. But limited research refutes much of the organization’s claim. While the past two years have seen more first-time gun buyers than ever before, including more women and people of color, gun buyers of all types appear to be increasing together.
Just weeks after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Donavan Lambert, a freelance filmmaker from Mount Vernon, New York, decided to pick up his first gun at the height of the pandemic. Lambert, who is black, said that during Donald Trump’s presidency, many of his friends encouraged him to arm himself because of the encouragement of white supremacists. Floyd’s murder pushed him to the edge of the abyss. He went online and bid on the Mossberg Maverick 88 12-gauge shotgun on the internet marketplace GunBroker.com, and bought the gun a week later at the R&T Smoke N Gun Shop on the west side of his neighborhood. “When cops just lie on someone’s neck and do nothing about it,” Lambert said, “you somehow feel like you have to level the playing field.”
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Lambert said he bought his gun online because there were no stores in the area. As The Trace reports, a surge in gun stores in 2020 has rapidly depleted stocks and plunged many small stores into a frustrating retention pattern: Businesses that can’t handle enough firearms to capitalize on increased demand have gone weeks without shipping the product. As such, they missed opportunities for weapons manufacturers to share their historic achievements. The spike in demand has also pushed wholesale prices to new highs, said Richard Talbert, director of ProShots, a gun shop and range in Rural Hall, North Carolina. Despite selling slightly more guns than usual, profit margins were low, and the shop condition was no better than an average, crisis-free year.
When asked if the rise in gun crime in the past years had weighed on him during this period, Talbert said that was one of the hardest parts of his job. “Preventing weapons from falling into the wrong hands is a major responsibility of our business,” he said. “It’s a topic of constant discussion for us.” After the shooting in Buffalo this month in which a racist gunman opened fire on grocery shoppers, killing 10 people, Talbert and his colleagues devoted several morning meetings to reviewing compliance protocols and discussing the sale that enabled the shooting. (The Buffalo attacker told his teachers he wanted to murder/suicide in 2021, but neither his teachers, parents, nor law enforcement tried to confiscate his firearms under New York State’s red flag law).
Gunmakers historically have rarely weighed in whether they have a responsibility to help reduce gun crime. But this crime is still a core part of the industry’s marketing strategy, says David Yamane, a sociologist of firearms marketing at Wake Forest University. Yamane said most of the gun industry’s advertisements over the past two decades have focused on the need to defend oneself against violent crime. Magazine ads for Kel-Tec rifles were “bred for self-defense.” On Facebook and YouTube, a man tucked his Taurus pistol under a green flannel shirt, telling viewers in a low baritone tone, “I care enough to protect my loved ones because I carry them.”
Meanwhile, research shows that spikes in firearm availability are associated with increases in gunshots and homicides. Indeed, recent data from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives shows that guns purchased in 2020 are more likely to be used in crimes within one year of purchase than guns purchased in any other year.
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Yamane acknowledged that this fact could create a “self-fulfilling prophecy” if the industry uses the threat of violent crime to sell weapons and newly sold weapons increase violent crime. But he cautioned against the simplicity of this explanation. He said that advertising can motivate you to buy a particular brand once you’ve already decided to buy something, but that decision is often made before encountering the ad – especially for new gun owners.
David Chipman, a former ATF agent nominated by President Biden to head the agency in April 2021, has been less generous in his assessment of the industry’s role. “At the end of the day, crime is just another business opportunity for weapons companies,” he said. He questioned why gunmakers have worked so actively over the years to stem the vigorous debate about the causes of gun violence and what measures can be taken to prevent it: “Because once these criminal weapons are salvaged, they need to be replaced and it’s good for the job. Biden withdrew Chipman’s nomination after a string of criticism from Senate Republicans over his ties to the leading gun violence prevention group Giffords, where Chipman worked as his senior policy adviser.
In the early 2000s, the industry successfully lobbied for concealment.
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