Old time TTAGers will remember Dan Baum as the one-time New Yorker writer and TTAG commentator/contributor. Dan the Man was offended by the term “gun grabber” and other “inflammatory” editorial material hereabouts, took his ball and went home. Actually, he hit the road, researching for a new, firearms-related book. Dan recently broke radio silence to send me a heads-up—via batch email. For .99, I could download an excerpt of his forthcoming tome Guns Gone Wild. [Click here to download the Kindle single.] And here’s what I learned for my George Washington: the United States firearms industry is demographically doomed. When the OFWGs (Old Fat White Guys) die-off, that’s it. Done. In fact, it’s already happening . . .
In 1977, more than half of American households kept guns; by 2010, fewer than a third. Participation in gun sports — hunting, target shooting skeet — has plummeted in the past ten years. Almost all guns are bought by men, and well over half gun purchases are made by men over 45. Barely one rifle or shotgun in ten goes to someone under 34. For handguns, the percentage of buyers who are young is in the single digits. If buying habit hold steady, the gun business will be all but gone in twenty years . . .
For the consumers of tomorrow, guns are so yesterday.
Three words Dan: Call of Duty. Also, as people get older, they realize they have more to lose (like children) and take steps to protect it. Insurance, pension, gun, etc. OFWGs never die. They replicate. Anecdotally, I’ve also seen more and more people of color at the range. And women too.
Oh wait! Dan was kidding; his reports about the demise of the American firearms industry were premature and greatly exaggerated (for dramatic effect). The ARs are coming! The ARs are coming!
The M16 is a fine battlefield rifle, but it’s hard, at first, to see why any civilian would want its semi-automatic version. With its pistol grip, black plastic stock, and man-killer look, the AR-15 has none of the polished walnut elegance of traditional firearms. The most common reason people buy rifles is for killing whitetail deer, and the tiny .223-caliber bullet fired by a basic AR isn’t very good at that. (The reason it’s good on people not deer is that people are two-legged and know what has happened when a bullet hits them, so they fall down. Deer keep running and die later.) Nor is an AR-15 ideal for home defense, which the second-most common reason people buy guns. Fired inside a living room, an AR-15 bullet would likely whizz through a burglar and several walls to lodge in a neighbor’s house.
Strangely, Dan undercuts his own argument a few ePages later quoting an AR enthusiast who changed his AR’s caliber to something larger so he could . . . wait for it . . . hunt deer. (Of frangible home defense rounds, nada.)
Dan moves on to politics, scoring a chin wag with Dennis Hennigan from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. It was worth his time; Hennigan admits he’s never been to a rifle range. And Baum tells it like it is: “the effect of assault rifles on public safety is practically non-existent.”
And that’s about all you get for a dollar. From this small sample, it seems Dan Baum’s resisted the urge to straddle the ballistic fence. I’ll reserve final judgement for the actual book, but I reckon the ex-TTAGer and AR15.com antagonist (in the strict sense) has written a mostly excellent introduction to the AR for newbies. If only he’d let a proper gun guy proof it first . . .