Gun sales are booming. For nearly two years straight, sales have increased year-over-year in a trend that seemed unstoppable. Until now. As of December 2016, gun sales didn’t shatter the record books.
What does this mean? It will probably be seen as a “Trump effect.” Now that a gun-friendly President is taking the national reins, the amount of panic-buying is tapering off.
It’s more than just gun sales. Gun websites are getting less traffic, too. Is the world of guns shrinking? More like just breathing a sigh of relief. Let’s be clear: gun sales might be down compared to 2015, but the FBI still processed over 2,750,000 background checks in December. That’s more sold in this December than every December before 2012. It’s just down from last year’s record of 3.3 million gun sales in one month.
The FBI processed around or more than 2 million background checks every month for the past 15 months. The FBI came close to running 28 million checks in 2016. Turns out, Americans are still crazy for guns — as if there was any real doubt in the first place.
It’s not surprising that gun website traffic is down, either. Many gun owners are single-issue voters. When it comes to politics, those people want to get their news from pro-gun media.
This election was exhausting. Voters looking to stay informed had to face an overwhelming amount of news. every new headline was out to bury the last one, each one more outrageous or eye-popping, day after day, for months. It’s OK to want to take a break from that, we get it.
GunsAmerica (website), the Firearm Blog (website), Guns & Ammo (website), Guns.com (website) and the Truth About Guns (website) and many other websites with news and politics in the mix saw a drop in post-election traffic (Some of those aforementioned websites witnessed a severe dropoff in traffic. Thankfully, GunsAmerica saw only a small decline). Meanwhile, gun websites that don’t rely on news like Forgotten Weapons (website) seem to be doing just fine, though, to be fair, its traffic is comparatively low to the rest of the websites listed.
Of course, it’s only a matter of time before something big comes along and the news starts to pick up again. But now, instead of worrying about what headline is about to hit next, gun owners are going to see a lot more headlines they want to see.
Gun rights organizations are already set to remove restrictions on gun ownership with the help of a sympathetic administration. Instead of headlines with things like “assault weapons ban” or “magazine capacity limits” we expect to see more with things with”national concealed-carry reciprocity” and “win for campus-carry group.”
The big picture isn’t that gun sales are down, it’s just that gun owners just got a lot pickier about what they’re going to buy next (or for the first time). And that thing people are saving up for: it could be a shiny new suppressor.
With the introduction of the Hearing Protection Act, H.R. 367, there is a chance that suppressors, or silencers, get downgraded from NFA-regulated accessories to standard safety gear every gun owner should have.
“The Hearing Protection Act would make it easier for sportsmen to purchase the tools necessary to protect their hearing,” said NRA-ILA executive director Chris Cox. “Many gun owners and sportsmen suffer severe hearing loss, and yet sound suppressors – a tool that can reduce such loss – is overly regulated and taxed.”
Right now gun owners have to jump through hoops and spend a lot of money to purchase a suppressor, including a $200 tax stamp, and wait times for approval run long.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” said Cox. “The Duncan-Carter Hearing Protection Act would allow people easier access to suppressors, which would help them to better protect their hearing.”
If this law goes into effect then not only will the cost go down by several hundred dollars just in taxes and fees, but the cost of manufacturing suppressors will go down as suppressor sales go up.
This won’t just be a win for gun rights supporters, it will be a win for all suppressor users, including the military and police. By artificially restricting the market for suppressors it restricts the speed of development. By freeing this technology everyone will have access to cheaper, better and safer suppressors.
The same thing happened after the end of the national “assault weapons” ban. As soon new designs became available to the public the guns themselves started getting better. Today’s firearm market is brimming with high-quality, affordable and richly-featured guns.
And on the subject of guns, the biggest firearm expo is just around the corner. From what companies are already teasing, this year’s SHOT Show will be one of the most exciting shows in years.
While it was entertaining to see non-stop increases in gun sales for so long, the practicalities of years of frenzied buying could be very frustrating.
During these panic years, we saw high prices, product rationing, ammo shortages and worse. People weren’t buying the guns they wanted, they were buying the guns they could get.
Gun companies had to back off on introducing new products because the demand for existing firearms was too high. Ammunition companies were forced to focus on mainstream cartridges which left a lot of people without ammo options. And everything cost too much.
So with this year’s SHOT Show we can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2017. It’s not so much that things are slowing down. For the first time in a long time, the gun industry has a chance to focus. And that’s a very good thing.