Dedicated GunsAmerica readers were, in my estimation, fairly well prepared when the sh*t to hit the fan this past Spring. Few, if any, of us thought that it would come in the form of a global pandemic but we knew deep down that something was going to rock the boat eventually because good times don’t last forever and chaos is just as common, if not more, than stability throughout human history.
Millions of other Americans did not share our cynical worldview and were supremely confident that come what may, Uncle Sugar would always have their backs and, therefore, there was no need to stockpile food, secure means to obtain potable water, procure additional sources of power, buy guns and ammunition for personal protection, among various other preps that we’ve made over the years.
COVID-19, the George Floyd riots and the subsequent calls to “Defund the Police” shattered the faith many pollyannas had in the Nanny State. Because, as it turns out when the chips are down Big Brother is not someone you can rely on for ANYTHING. This is especially true as it relates to your personal safety.
In fact, during times of crisis, he may even become a threat. Recall the forced closure of gun stores during the early outbreak of the novel coronavirus because they were “non-essential” businesses by government decree (which coincided with the release of hardened inmates from prison along with a coordinated reduction in policing to maximize officer safety). Directly infringing on the people’s right to keep and bear arms doesn’t make them safer, obviously. It makes them soft targets for the criminal element that thrives under adverse conditions.
Again, we know all this. But many others woke up to this reality for the first time. Consequently, when they were allowed to, they bought guns by the millions. To put some numbers to it, there were an estimated 2.5 million first-time gun buyers over the span of about three months, March to May 2020, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.
Now we find ourselves in the midst of another great gun boom, not unlike the one we witnessed during the Obama administration. The question is will the gun and ammo shortages we see today continue on for the foreseeable future?
Forbes did some of the legwork on this question and found that unlike during those Obama years, the gun industry is not going to jump whole hog into expanding facilities and production capacities to meet the current demand because collectively it doesn’t want to get burned again when things return back to, for lack of a better word, “normal.”
“Firearm manufacturers are making prudent decisions to keep up with extraordinary demand during these past few months,” Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for NSSF, told Forbes. “Manufacturers are producing firearms and ammunition as quickly as they can to meet customer demand.” But he added that gunmakers must meet the spike in demand, which has outstripped production, “in a way that is going to ensure sustained participation in tomorrow’s market.”
Up until COVID, one could argue that the firearms and ammo industry was experiencing a “Trump slump.” With a pro-gun president at the helm and no risk of confiscation (minus that whole bump stock fiasco) or the passage of laws that restrict 2A rights, demand had waned and inventory was plentiful across the board. It became harder and harder for gun companies that had reinvested much of the Obama windfall into bigger facilities, new machinery, a larger workforce to make ends meet. The lesson, as Oliva explained, is for gunmakers to proceed into 2021 and beyond with caution.
“Like any other manufacturing base, firearm and ammunition makers forecast their best analysis for what the demand will be for their products in the coming year,” said Oliva. “That includes placing orders for raw materials, including bar stock to make barrels, component materials to make ammunition and predicting labor, warehousing and shipping costs, distribution channels and retail demand.”
“Whipsaw reactions, to meet demand spike, come with risk,” he added.
As stated at the outset, longtime readers of GunsAmerica were likely prepared. You had enough on hand to keep you and your family safe. You probably bought some extra ammo or maybe even a new gun or two in the intervening months just to be doubly sure but I’m willing to bet you had most of what you needed.
Newbies, on the other hand, between paying full freight, waiting in long lines, dealing with closures and limited access to retail locations as well as shortages on desired products, had to learn the hard way. But lucky for them, it wasn’t too, too late. We didn’t go full-blown Mad Max.
Looking ahead, who knows what the future holds.
Surely, if Biden and Harris get elected in November and the Dems take control of the Senate while retaining the House, one can expect a full-on assault on gun ownership in this county the likes of which we’ve never seen and that will cause demand to skyrocket. For sure.
However, if Trump wins a second term, there may be an ease in demand if we solve the COVID crisis, get the millions of people who are out of work back to work, quell media-fueled racial tensions, eliminate wanton rioting, and keep the county from coming apart at the seams. All big IFs.
So, high demand or low demand, if you have what you need, great! And, if you don’t yet? Well, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now!