Every week or so the New York Times provides another opportunity for gun rights advocates to give the left-leaning paper the “pitchfork and torches” treatment. Today’s Sunday Business section article on the Freedom Group—“the most powerful and mysterious force in the American commercial gun industry today”—is only something of an exception. While the article is surprisingly short on subtle hints about how we’re all idiots for owning guns or why all guns should be banned, the Gray Lady couldn’t entirely resist the urge to, as RF says, “put the boot in” . . .
Unlike military counterparts like automatic M-16’s, rifles like those from Bushmaster don’t spray bullets with one trigger pull. But, with gas-powered mechanisms, semiautomatics can fire rapid follow-up shots as fast as the trigger can be squeezed. They are often called “black guns” because of their color. The police tied a Bushmaster XM15 rifle to shootings in the Washington sniper case in 2002.
Which means what? That the Times is obsessed with the Washington sniper case (they mention it again). It seems that the Freedom Group is equally focused. They want to sell you a gun! Well, not you. You already have one.
True, the N.R.A. estimates that about 70 million to 80 million Americans collectively own 300 million firearms. But how many of those people buy new guns regularly? For companies like the Freedom Group, the challenge is to expand the market. These days, more women are involved in target shooting, according to participation reports from the National Sporting Goods Association. But, analysts say, many young men who in the past might have taken up game hunting are now more interested in other pursuits like online gaming.
Yes, there is doom and things go boom in Cerberus’ lab.
Some analysts say tactical rifles have peaked, that the market has topped out, and that small, concealable handguns are the way forward for the near future. And yet, after a tough 2010, gun sales at the Freedom Group were up 5.6 percent during the first nine months of this year, although the company reported a net loss of $6.3 million for the same time period, according to the company’s most recent earnings report.
The bottom line certainly telling: banking a loss in a up market is something of an accomplishment for this mysterious, non-Sorosian powerhouse. A failure whose roots can be found in TTAG’s coverage of Feinberg’s folly. Never mind, back to a little assault weapons bashing . . .
Bushmaster was among the first to sell ordinary people on weapons that look and feel like the ones carried by soldiers. Today many gun makers have embraced military-style weapons, a major but controversial source of growth for the commercial gun market, says Tom Diaz, a senior policy analyst at the Violence Policy Center, a research group that backs gun control.
“It’s clear that the militarized stuff is the stuff that sells and is defining the industry,” Mr. Diaz says.
As always, the Times views the firearms industry as some sort of cancer. And substitutes stats and quotes for genuine insight. Still, it could have been worse. And no doubt will be, again, soon. Good thing this article was published on Sunday, when the Times’ readership is at its peak.