Fear and Loathing at the Local Gun Store

Back in the day, I hung out with a guy who sold time shares. Mr. X used to talk about leading lambs to the slaughter. “OK, you got a guy who’s a hanging chad. He wants to buy. He doesn’t want to buy. So you stop in the middle of your pitch. Just like that. You say ‘Oh shit!’ The customer says ‘what?’ ‘I can’t believe this! My colleague just sold that time share. Look, I’m so sorry I wasted your time.’ No matter what he says you tell him nope, he can’t have it. It’s sold. You hang up. Ten minutes later you call him back with the good news. ‘I’ve worked something out with my colleague. But you gotta buy it now.’ Works like a charm.” And there you have it: the great post-Obama re-election gun buying panic of 2012 . . .

Conventional wisdom says the firearm industry’s experiencing a major sales surge because gun buyers are loathing the Obama administration. Consumers are afraid that they won’t be able to buy “assault rifles,” “high-capacity magazines” and shoulder thingies that go up in the near future. Heretofore politically shackled gun grabbers will reinstate the Clinton-era Assault Weapons Ban and . . . worse.

As our man Foghorn has pointed out, there’s little evidence that an assault weapons ban is imminent. What’s more (or less), fans of products targeted by gun control advocates still have considerable Congressional protection from prohibition.

Most hard-core gun buyers know that their gun rights aren’t in peril. Any more than usual. Yet. Which means the current sales surge isn’t entirely or even mostly down to politics. I reckon it’s plain old-fashioned panic buying.

Like the time share marks fooled by faux scarcity, American gun buyers have become convinced that the “good stuff” is in short supply. Whether or not a ban is coming, they’re panicked by the idea that they can’t get what they want right now. And the more they come to believe that someone else is buying something they can’t, the more they want to buy it.

Not to coin a phrase, but TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia is better than that. They know how to keep calm, carry on and avoid inflated prices and OCD credit card drain. All they have to do: separate need from want.

Need is based on rational thought. Do gun buyers actually need a dozen [more] high-capacity magazines or another couple of ARs? I suspect not. I’d bet dollars to donuts that gun owners who own a more-than-two high-cap mags and at least one “assault rifle” have already thought through their prepping needs, and prepped accordingly.

It’s not that hard. Provided it’s clean and dry, ammo shelf life is measured in decades. With a little TLC, today’s guns will be good to go in the roaring ’20s—and beyond. Equally, anyone with a lick of common sense knows that another AR or the ability to carry an “extra” 30 cartridges isn’t going to make the difference between life and death in any SHTF scenario you can imagine.

OK, not imagine. Make that “realistically conceive.” And while there’s nothing wrong with laying in supplies for an extended emergency of some kind, it’s worth noting that there isn’t one in effect at the moment. Unless you’re in New Jersey. In which case, how many guns and high-capacity magazines do you need? Looters or not, I’d rather have a working generator and a can of gas than a spare AR or a belt-load of Surefire 60-round mags.

As far as “want” is concerned, buyers should keep in mind that it’s all in their mind. At the risk of alienating an industry exploiting OFWG fear and loathing, there’s a lot of happiness to be found in wanting what you already have. In other words, gun owners feeling the onset of a gun buying panic attack should spend a little quality time with their current arsenal. Re-organize their ammo. Chill.

This gun buying panic will subside in a few months. That said, sales of ammo, mags and guns in the “potentially threatened” category will continue to remain steady; gun law liberalization and increasing cultural acceptance ( by Gen COD) guarantee that gun newbies will continue to sustain firearms sales. And they’ll want the cool shit.

Meanwhile, there’s no reason to bitch about rising prices or, indeed, “price gouging.” While it may pain us personally, the more money flowing into the firearms industry the better it is for all of us. If we have the free market on our side, and we do, we can’t lose. At least in theory.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

56 Responses to Fear and Loathing at the Local Gun Store

  1. avatarsanchanim says:

    RF I have a problem with OCD Credit card drain. Every time my wife walks by a shoe store!
    As the AI we do need to keep a close watch on things. I don’t think we need to panic, at least not yet, but what scares me is the administrations ability to bypass our governments checks and balances and simply implement things. If that happens then I think we will see a full on panic!
    So maybe you don’t need to buy an arsenal right this second, but you know Christmas is coming, so a couple of extra lowers, or some mags are something we would probably get anyways.

  2. avatarBrigo50 says:

    I have a sweet ass sig sign like he has behind him there. Love it.

  3. avatarSCS says:

    “In other words, gun owners feeling the onset of a gun buying panic attack should spend a little quality time with their current arsenal. Re-organize their ammo. Chill.”

    Great advice and it has worked for me, numerous times.

  4. avatarjwm says:

    In shaky economic times I fear that a lot of people are letting their fears max out theur credit cards. Buy what you want, but if you have to use credit to get it you might want to reconsider.

  5. avatarIng says:

    Articles like this are among the major reasons I visit this site every day. It’s good to hear some well-reasoned common sense in an arena that (elsewhere, not here) is usually dominated by sales pitches, hyperpartisanship, and mutual paranoia.

    In the meantime, I WILL continue to bitch about rising prices (are they rising yet?) because…well…because. Even a shooting habit that revolves around casual weekend plinking with common/cheap stuff like 9mm and 30-30 and .22 ammunition is dang expensive, and my budget can’t handle the truth.

  6. avatarPeter says:

    Even you contradict yourself by saying “Whether or not a ban is coming….” Which is it? I myself will error on the side of being safe as i lived through the clinton ban and it wasnt fun.

  7. avatarAverage_Casey says:

    Seriously, instead of freaking out and going on a purchasing binge, just figure out what you need and buy smart. Buy a lower if you want an AR and buy a couple of uppers so you can make a couple of caliber changes. Then you can slowly build your AR and are grandfathered in. Any law pertaining to an AR cannot apply to an already purchased one because of the Ex Pose Facto clause in the Constitution.

    • avatarMark N. says:

      That would be ex post facto (after the fact of) clause, and no it doesn’t work that way. While they cannot prosecute you for an act legal when performed that is now unlawful, they can outlaw something and punish you, not because you had (that firearm) before, but because you have it NOW. For example, cocaine, opium and cannabis used to be legal, but are illegal now. If you are busted, it will be for what you have now, not what you had back when it was legal.
      Don’t get too paranoid though. There are other constitutional principles in play, such as they have to grandfather in what was already there, or buy it all up at FMV.

  8. avataruncommon_sense says:

    You missed two angles RF. How about the people that have wanted to purchase a military style semi-automatic rifle for some time but were concerned their spouse would object to one more firearm purchase? Current events provide a somewhat legitimate rationale to finally plunk down that $700 to $1200.

    And given how the fundamentals are in place for inflation to really start kicking in, purchasing firearms could be a sound investment — just as sound as purchasing any tangible asset of lasting value. In an economy where inflation is taking off, the last thing you want to have in hand is dollars. Instead of buying gold, which has no ability to provide entertainment, why not purchase firearms which retain a lot of their value if used gently and maintained properly?

    • avatarsanchanim says:

      Oh buying guns as an investment strategy, now that is a good point, plus it is a lot more fun than fearing the quarterly mailings on your mutual funds!

      I think in the next four years we will see something happen, but how, what and exactly when I can not predict.

      Now If you want to stock up, nothing wrong with that. I think things will become much clearer over the next 6 months or so. We have the “fiscal cliff”, the UN weapons treaty, and depending on how unemployment goes, along with the full implementation of Obamacare, we will begin to solidify trends as to what to expect over the next four years.

      So yeah have another latte, relax, go plink a few…
      Just remember we are headed in a direction that changing course might be very difficult.

  9. avatarMatt in FL says:

    I find the guy in that video insufferable. I first saw him here: http://youtu.be/to3hjQv4UeI and I’ve not made it through one of his videos since. He is pretty much the perfect representation of “that guy” that I hate to get into conversations with at the gun shop.

  10. I hate idiots that make a big deal out of EMPs. If the US were to be attacked with an EMP, it would be caused by a nuclear bomb. If we are being attacked by nuclear bombs, then EMPs are the least of your concerns.

    • avatarWLCE says:

      Exactly and EMP is far less destructive than people think. Hell, many military communications and security apparatus are designed to withstand EMP.

      Anybody who loses sleep over the EMP boogeyman needs to study 80s NATO studies about EMP and its affect on troops defending Europe from the Warsaw Pact. There are bigger things to worry about, such as the impending economic collapse and the paradigm shift away from fiat currency.

      • avatarMark N. says:

        The risk of an EMP is to the civilian infrastructure, e.g. the power grid. That would indeed be traumatic. That doesn’t mean I believe for a moment that Iran has a barge sitting off the coast with a nuclear weapon to take out the untied states society. I don’t. But the grid is vulnerable, and no one seems able to fix it.

        • avatarWLCE says:

          a civilian infrastructure asset will always be vulnerable. EMP is somewhat of a threat, though not to downplay it, i still believe there are bigger ones citizens should be concerned about.

        • I think the risk from a super solar flare is very real, and more of a threat than the Iranians. The last one happened in 1859, and one could wipe out the power grid, destroying most large transformers for major powerlines. They are custom made, all outside the U.S. The wait time to construct one is three years. The grid cannot operate without them, so you are looking at the grid being down for *years*. Imagine the U.S without electricity for 80% of the population for even one winter, even in southern California!

  11. avatarg says:

    Walked into a local gun store to buy a SIG magazine. Walked out with the magazine AND a brand-new AK. True story.

  12. avatarRob says:

    “Meanwhile, there’s no reason to bitch about rising prices or, indeed, “price gouging.” While it may pain us personally, the more money flowing into the firearms industry the better it is for all of us. ”

    I would say that that is a flawed judgement. The gun makers may not be the ones gouging, but rather dirt bag dealers that want to exploit the panic. They exploit it and feed it. Just because the Sig that was once $1100 is now being sold by your gun shop for $1600 doesn’t mean Sig saw another dime, it means some jerk is ripping people off.

    • avatarChris says:

      Which is why I love where I get my guns. While I am not sure how much truth there is to them saying they “dont make much off of gun sales” (they are a range and resturaunt also), I still cant beat their prices. I got my PSA M4 for the same price as many big online sellers but mine came with a Vortex Strikefire while most others offer just the rifle.

      They have a great atitude to and arnt buying in to the panic. They certainly dont pitch the “get em now while you still can” atitude.

      I never understood business that screw their customers. I get making money sure. I also understand that maybe some get so much business that repeat business may not matter. But why would anyone not want to creat repeat customers!?

      It is very nice to occasionaly be given reasins to remain loyal.

  13. avatarAlphaGeek says:

    I actually haven’t seen a lot of exploitation, at least at the online dealers. Panic buying at LGSs isn’t much of a consideration in California.

    Mostly what I’ve seen is an inability by resellers to get enough inventory to meet demand at current prices. This page at CTD tells the same story as pretty much every major online seller of firearms (and in particular, AR-type lower receivers) that I’ve seen in the last 3 days:

    http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/ItemListing.aspx?pagesize=1000&catid=2147

    Crazy.

  14. avatarWLCE says:

    I really dont get why people are delving into the surefire 60 round mag fad. They are notoriously unreliable and a unreliable magazine is USELESS in my rifle. 30 and 20 rounders work wonders. A collection of any aluminum, magpul, lancer, tango down, etc magazines are extremely reliable and durable.

    Also, I just disagree overall with the weapon selection. Your weapon should be simple, reliable, and have very high parts commonality throughout the US but also be effective enough to ward off attackers and initiate assaults if necessary. It is not expensive to buy a Glock, AR15, and a Mossberg shotgun, which is a pretty much unbeatable trio of weapons available to the american gun owner. Personally, I prefer a Glock 19/17, BCM or DD AR, and Mossberg 500. Of course, if you are on a tighter budget, a AK/SKS, Mosin Nagant, Ruger or Makarov, and mossberg will work perfectly.

    For long range, there is the Savage model 10 or a Remington 700, but the Springfield M1A is certainly not a bona fide “sniper rifle”; they CAN be 1MOA or less accurate, though they require much tuning and work to keep them that way.

    Other than that, it is most appropriate to be objective, rational, and realistic. Can you travel with a entire arsenal of weaponry? 50x 30 round AR15 mags? 10,000K of ammunition? THE most important strategy to surviving a terrible situation is banding together with a group of like-minded individuals.

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      For long range, there is the Savage model 10 or a Remington 700, but the Springfield M1A is certainly not a bona fide “sniper rifle”; they CAN be 1MOA or less accurate, though they require much tuning and work to keep them that way.

      The M1A is a battle rifle first and foremost. If you need to take down a target at 500m, you and a buddy each fire 3 well-aimed rounds down range. Any of the 2-3 resulting hits will neutralize the threat.

      As you note, there are better tools for one shot/one kill at range.. but if you’re out in the wide open, an unaccurized M1A is still a better “if I had to pick just one rifle” choice than most 5.56 alternatives.

      • avatarWLCE says:

        I agree somewhat, though there are still tradeoffs in ammunition weight, weapon weight, etc and those pounds to add up. The M1A, unaccurized, is realistically accurate up to 600 meters and perhaps 800 meters with the proper ammunition. The AR15? it is realistically accurate up to 400 meters and perhaps 600 meters with proper ammo (with Black Hills 77gr OTM, I can hit a man sized target at 700 meters). To me, the extra 100-200 meters in range does not overcome the disadvantages that are inherent to the M1A.

        Of course, there is the SCAR 17 platform, which is miles better, a FAL, and other models if you want 308. and they’re not cheap. A dedicated, accurate Savage or Winchester 700 is very reasonably priced and is far more accurate than the M1A.

        I just dont care for M1As and dont recommend them (everybody is different). Theyre heavy, temperamental, expensive, and their open action leaves much room for ice and dirt to accumulate. Hell, in the 50s, during its military hay day, it was already superseded by a superior design (the FAL).

  15. avatardan says:

    I see this the same way i see my chance of having to defend my life. It is VERY unlikely it will happen, but if it does happen I want to be prepared. I don’t understand why we can use that mindset when it comes to the possibility of self defense, but not when it comes to the possibility of an AWB.

    better safe than sorry, thats what my mom always said when she bought her ARs.

  16. avatarLarry says:

    Maybe people are preparing for a future civil war between the “makers” and “takers”? Seems the country is getting fairly divided. Sure hope this isn’t the case.

  17. I dunno, I had been wanting that CZ 97B for awhile… Plus, I got to visit a local gun store in the town I just moved to, so that’s good..

  18. avatarSammy says:

    With respect to all and the TTAG forum, there is only one topic for gun owners. Will we be able to keep them? Kenya Boy has vowed to disarm us. He can create executive orders, implement martial law, or deploy his newly formed brown shirts http://fromthetrenchesworldreport.com/homeland-security-graduates-first-corps-of-obamas-brown-shirts-homeland-youth/23898/ (Previously posted) or partener with the thugs at the UN. But in any case his nefarious intentions are clear.

  19. avatarscoolbubba says:

    Keep Calm and Carry On.

  20. avatarthe last Marine out says:

    Well Amerika You wanted Oboy and you sold you out for a bowl of soup… ENJOY the U.N. is coming for your guns , your money, your freedoms and liberty… You wanted it ! you got it. and you be dammed lucked to only get a slave job . in camp FEMA – USA… enjoy your time in HELL ………

    • avatarjwm says:

      Last marine out…….. of where? The lock ward at the VA? Seriously, back on your meds.

      • avatarthe last Marine out says:

        No joking , OBOY called the U.N. a few hours after winning the election to start U.N. gun control with his full support… THE END is going to come fast >>>>>>>Amerika sold out for a union (read MOB run jobs)…. I feel sorry for no one … the end will come FAST….and your guns will not save you … ONLY thing left is for Amerika to REPENT and put your pride in the trash can…….

        • avatarWLCE says:

          the UN small arms treaty is BS. Not real. I have already refuted this plenty of times.

          As much as I would like to believe they’re coming for my guns, I havent seen any evidence that backs that up. Its speculation and guesswork, nothing more.

  21. avatarGyufygy says:

    I’m not using the election as an excuse to stock up on guns. I just want to stock up on guns. Totally different. It’s cool.

  22. avatartheworlddidntend says:

    thank you guys for being one of the only gun related sites to post a rational article about the pre and post-election craze.

  23. avatarKenw says:

    I’m liking this panic buying surge.
    I dropped off a couple of guns I did not care for to the local gun shop and they lasted all of 3 days. I ended up making more than I would have gotten a few months back in a handshake deal and since the new owners had to do the paperwork ( one had a card ) the guns are no longer my problem. Gunwise I have what I want, I’m just hoping ammo does not jump in price to much or my fun times at the range might become rarer.

  24. avatarLTC F says:

    I hate to admit it, but Democrat Presidents have been good for me financially. Thanks to Jimmy Carter and the his brilliant handling of the economy, I had a Certificate of Deposit that was paying 18.5% back in the late 70′s. Of course since I was 12, the rampant inflation that came with it was pretty transparent to me. (Not so much for my dad who rode a bike 15 miles each way to and from work because if he could get gas he really couldn’t afford it. That an we ate a lot of hamburger and chicken.)

    Bill Clinton and his Assault Weapon Ban raised the value of my rather modest gun collection by quite a bit. That SKS I got for free (when I bought a case of Bulgarian Surplus 7.62×39 ammo at Jims Pawn and Gun Jobbery in Fayetteville NC) was suddenly worth big bucks, and forget about my FN 49.

    The current occupant of the White House, though he’s made my electric bill go up, my commute to work cost twice as much, and I’m back to eating more chicken and hamburger, has caused all that gold I bought a $700 an ounce (remember when Anthony Weiner wanted to make Glenn Beck testify before congress for convincing all us stupid rubes to buy gold) worth a whole lot more. That an my slightly less modest gun collection (and all those evil high capacity magazines for my pistols and assault rifles) are appreciating in value again.

    • avatarWLCE says:

      I made damn good money from combloc drum magazines during the first AWB.

      Im going to do it again. that is why I buy every one I come across.

  25. avatarJFP says:

    Ahh, ex post facto. You know that question on the ATF forms about a domestic violence conviction or a restraining order? Yeah, when they passed that it was ex post facto. Folks who had been clean for years, even if they paid a fine for a misdemeanor, lost their gun rights.

    Go talk to parents who got hit by the Bradley amendment for child support. That debt can never be forgiven, even it turns out the government made a mistake. Convenient eh?

  26. avatarDon says:

    Pshhh. I am looking forward to buying “like new” “barely used” semi auto rifles at a steal in a few years from now when they saturate the market (like i did last time).

  27. avatarGw says:

    “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a
    permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until
    the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from
    the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for
    the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury,
    with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose
    fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”
    “The average age of the worlds greatest civilizations from the beginning
    of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these
    nations always progressed through the following sequence:

    1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
    2. From spiritual faith to great courage;
    3. From courage to liberty;
    4. From liberty to abundance;
    5. From abundance to complacency;
    6. From complacency to apathy;
    7. From apathy to dependence;
    8. From dependence back into bondage ”

    Lord Woodhouselee

  28. avatarGreg in Allston says:

    A man can never have too much red wine, too many books or too much ammunition. Rudyard Kipling.

    Anyway, regarding ammo, set yourself a reserve buffer stock limit, stick to it and replenish as necessary, first in-first out. How much, and of what kinds of ammo do you go through in a typical year? Well, have that on the shelf or in the safe (assuming that you’re within the legal limits for your jurisdiction and in compliance with fire codes, etc.), then buy what you need to maintain your reserve as required. Steady as she goes, don’t freak out.

    • avatarthe last Marine out says:

      WE now have to understand Oboy no longer has to answer to anyone , not congress or the people, he has total control of everything by way of the special powers of exec. orders, yes he can order total gun control he has that power , why do you think everyone got upset about NDAA and other laws just pasted this year… that-s the real hell we now live in… and take note that New Jersey has TURNED away all non-union workers , WOW and if you use a gun in NYC. for defense you got hell to pay. The real TRUTH is Amerika is now under God’s judgement, Sandy was kids stuff of what’s coming to USA or WE can REPENT and get GOD’s love and Blessings …. your guns will not save you…….still time left to call on God he waits for all his to return and be bless… Is that too hard to understand ????? two roads to take , we know where each goes… A great Book the HARBINGER tells the full story of America , by Jonathan Cahn Rabbi and a Christian , he has the Answers for America .. Come let us REASON together says our loving God…

  29. avatarBHirsh says:

    Nothing wrong with panic buying. Any accrual of arms by any peaceable citizen is a GOOD thing, no matter what the reason.

    More Guns = Less Bullshit

  30. avatarDr Dave says:

    Many good points made in this post. Panic buying is rarely (if ever) a wise use of cash. It would be equally ignorant to believe that the re-election of a leftist administration does not represent a clear threat to the 2A. So what are we to do? My advice would be to stick to your own priorities. For me that means avoid debt, avoid large purchases, enjoy time with my family, maintain my personal fitness, and remain vigilant on all fronts. I do plan on finally buying that 50 BMG (and reloading equipment) because I believe time is of the essence there. My rifle of choice is the HTI by Desert Tactical with caliber conversion in .416 Barrett and 50 BMG (in case anyone was wondering).

  31. avatarGS650G says:

    This is all good advice right up to the point they announce we can’t have this or that anymore. Remember how cheap ARs were in the days before the first AWB and what they ended up afterwards.
    I’m not in the market for anything except maybe a big bore XD but I think I’ll pick up a few 20 round mags and some cheap mail order ammo just in case. Gun control laws tend to make gun shops rich by removing alternative means of acquiring items leaving a nice windfall in the wake. If not for the GCA68 we would be buying anything we wanted on the internet at rock bottom prices.

  32. avatarFalconnier says:

    “there’s little evidence that an assault weapons ban is imminent. ”

    Care to pull your head out of your ass? What happened in NY? What’s going on in other states? Sure, the Fed ban is unlikely, but the rest of us are getting bufued.

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