It’s going to be a long time before historians can fully gauge the results of the presidency of Barack Obama and we’ve barely opened the book on Donald Trump’s tenure. But we do have one early indicator which points to a particular quality where Obama will likely be graded as head and shoulders above his successor. There was nobody better at spurring gun sales than the 44th president and, at least thus far, President Trump is a bitter disappointment. Gun sales hit record levels under Obama, but since December they’ve absolutely tanked. (Fox News)
President Trump’s election appears to be negatively affecting gun sales in the U.S. and the bubble appears to be bursting despite a staunch advocate for gun rights in the White House and Republicans ruling Congress.
“President Obama was the best gun salesman the world has ever seen,” Karl Sorken, a production manager at Battle Rifle Co. in Houston. Sorken is an Army veteran and self-described liberal who voted for Obama and notes the change for the industry under Trump is a topic of conversation in the shop.
Fears of government limits on guns — some real, some perceived — led to a surge in demand during Obama’s tenure and manufacturers leapt to keep up. Over the decade ending in 2015, the number of U.S. companies licensed to make firearms jumped 362 percent.
We have so much data on gun sales and trends that it’s pretty much impossible to ignore the figures here. Gun sales have definitely dropped off over the past few months and there’s not much in the way of an alternate explanation being put forward. The biggest and most reliable indicator being cited is the number of background checks being submitted. While not a one for one indicator of actual sales (because some people fail or don’t complete the purchase for whatever reason) it’s a reliable snapshot of how many people are shopping for weapons. The number in December of 2016 dropped by half a million from the same time the previous year.
If you wanted to be more optimistic you might attribute at least a portion of this to market saturation. After all, there are a finite number of people in the country who are ever going to want a weapon and not many are rich enough to keep buying new ones every month. But the population continues to grow at its normal pace, so there should be a predictable number of new potential customers coming of age every year. With that in mind, you probably can “blame” Donald Trump for this if blame truly needs to be assigned. And it makes sense. When you have a president that’s calling for new gun control regulations and legislation every time he gets behind a microphone and a Justice Department which seems to be bending over backwards to encourage lawsuits against firearms manufacturers, people are obviously going to become skittish and may consider arming up while they still have the option.
Trump, on the other hand, has done nothing but shower praise on the NRA and profess his love for the Second Amendment. He’s appointing like minded souls to his cabinet. In the minds of many potential customers… what’s the rush? It’s not as if there’s anyone coming to shut down the gun shops in the next few years. Perhaps that money could be better invested elsewhere.
All in all, this is one of the shining aspects of the Obama presidency. I’m just not sure if he really wants to be remembered as the guy who pumped up the firearms industry to unheard of levels for eight straight years. But let’s face it.. it’s still a far better legacy than being the guy who is remembered for collapsing the health insurance market.