A couple of weeks ago we were looking at an unexpected (if predictable) trend in American purchasing habits. After years of breaking records, gun sales in the United States actually dropped in 2017. This was attributed, at least in part, to the election of President Trump and GOP majorities in both chambers of Congress, easing fears that stricter gun control laws or even possible confiscations might be coming. This has led to a lowered sense of urgency in purchasing firearms, something I referred to as a sort of “reverse Trump effect.”
Now, in what will likely be seen as bitter irony by gun-grabbers, in the wake of the Florida school shooting that trend may be about to reverse. The New York Daily News reports that a recent gun show in Florida measured record attendance only eleven days after the tragedy.
Record numbers flocked to ogle assault weapons, shotguns and pistols at a Florida gun show days after the massacre of students at a high school in the same state.
Organizers at the weekend event in Tampa said that roughly 7,000 people strolled around a hall where guns of various shapes and sizes were displayed on Saturday and more were expected on Sunday, according to WTSP. Florida Gun Shows, which put on the event, cancelled a similar show set for next month in Fort Lauderdale, which is closer to Parkland, Fla., where 17 people were gunned down by Nikolas Cruz on Valentine’s Day.
But the couple of hundred miles between south and central Florida was enough to have attendees more focused on the massacre’s impact on their ability to purchase weapons.
A local news outlet spoke with a number of attendees to find out what was drawing them to the show, particularly so soon after the mass shooting. Some were not there looking for firearms, but for specialty items such as bullet-resistant backpack plates for their children. (A sensible precaution in today’s climate.) But others expressed concerns that new laws banning certain weapons or at least raising the minimum age of purchase might be passed.
These stories mirror the ones we heard during most of the Obama administration. Concerns that Democrats were going to institute bans or other restrictions on the purchase of firearms by the law-abiding drove people to stock up while the products were still available. At a minimum, fears that new taxes on weapons and ammunition might make them unaffordable caused some consumers to make their purchases while they were still affordable.
That seemed to be changing after Donald Trump’s election, but in the wake of the Florida shooting even the President is talking about new restrictions or changes in age limits. At a minimum, he’s sounding like he won’t be challenging the individual states if they want to make such moves. That adds up to renewed interest in buying whlle the buying is good, so to speak. We won’t know for sure until the industry releases their next set of sales figures later this year, but if this Florida gun show is any indication, the market may be heating back up.