Monday, November 10, 2008

Maybe they should ban private homes, too

As gun rights columnist David Codrea writes in his own take on this issue, "Across the nation, gun sales are up. The cause is attributed to fear over what new citizen disarmament edicts a Barack Obama presidency will bring."

He's right. The New York Times reports, "[s]ales of handguns, rifles and ammunition have surged in the last week, according to gun store owners around the nation."

How much?

Says the Times:

Nationally, rifle and handgun sales surged 17 percent, for example, in May, compared with May 2007, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation figures. That was before Mr. Obama had clinched the Democratic nomination. Sales then fell and were essentially flat by September compared with the year before, even as the campaign heated up, before rising 14 percent in October. November figures were not yet available.

The ultimate boost to retail sales may turn out to be higher. Britain's Sky News reports that one large retailer saw a remarkable jump in purchases of firearms. "Cheaper Than Dirt sold a million dollars in guns in October, more than double the normal amount."

News reports uniformly acknowledge that fears of the incoming Obama administration's attitude towards firearms regulation are behind the workout cash registers are getting in gun shops across the country. While President-Elect Barack Obama has said he agrees with the Supreme Court that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms, his announced policy proposals suggest a very narrow interpretation of that right. Obama's transition Website,, contained the following language before the page was yanked offline [Note: It is still in the Google cache here]:

Address Gun Violence in Cities: As president, Barack Obama would repeal the Tiahrt Amendment, which restricts the ability of local law enforcement to access important gun trace information, and give police officers across the nation the tools they need to solve gun crimes and fight the illegal arms trade. Obama and Biden also favor commonsense measures that respect the Second Amendment rights of gun owners, while keeping guns away from children and from criminals who shouldn't have them. They support closing the gun show loophole and making guns in this country childproof. They also support making the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent, as such weapons belong on foreign battlefields and not on our streets.

Not surprisingly, given the new president's enthusiasm for restoring the so-called "assault weapons ban," military-style semi-automatic rifles appear to be the hottest sellers around the country.

This shouldn't be a surprise. In 1995, after the original assault weapons ban was passed under the Clinton administration, 60 Minutes co-host Leslie Stahl said of the impact of the ban, "it made 1994 the best year for gun sales in a generation and the best year for the sales of assault weapons ever."

This isn't a phenomenon confined to firearms, nor is it specific to Americans. Gay and lesbian couples rushed to marry before voters went to the polls and approved Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriages in California. When the Chinese government hinted that it might cap car registrations in Beijing, sales of new automobiles jumped by 30%.

That suggests a healthy disdain for restrictive laws on the part of people who want to go about their lives in ways that politicians disapprove. What government officials should have learned by now is that the best way to put more of anything into circulation is to suggest that you're going to attempt to use the law to restrict its availability. People will then rush to acquire that which is about to be forbidden.

And we can credibly assume, looking at history, that people rushing to beat a ban to the punch don't plan to give up what they've just acquired once a new law comes into effect.



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