Firearms Industry Soars Amid Election-Year Angst, Shattering Records
David Strickroth does steady business at High Impact Tactical Firearms in Upland, Calif. It’s a small shop, as gun shops go, with several dozen firearms hanging on the olive green walls and sitting in a glass display case below. He typically sells one or two guns a day.
Recently, though, things have picked up: “Now I’m selling six or seven a day,” Strickroth says.
The reason? Strickroth uses the word “panic,” but describes it more as angst that gun owners and would-be owners are feeling over the rhetoric of the presidential election, the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency and the potential for more regulation in California — a state that already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.
“Doesn’t matter what side somebody’s on,” Strickroth says. “It’s just that what’s said [during the election] generates an angst in people that makes folks either feel ‘I’ve got to get rid of this’ or ‘I’ve got to go get me one.’ ”
That angst is not just limited to the Golden State, though.
The FBI processed more than 2.3 million background checks nationally last month — those background checks being the best available proxy for gun sale numbers. That was the most ever for the month of October and an increase of more than 350,000 background checks compared to the same month last year.
Gun shops around the country are seeing record sales. Others are offering pre-election sales. Major gun manufacturers Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co. are reporting huge jumps in earnings. In its earnings report, Sturm, Ruger & Co. wrote that the “stronger-than-normal industry demand during the summer [was] likely bolstered by the political campaigns for the November elections.”
As large as the recent surge in gun sales is, the trend is not new. Gun and ammunition sales jumped sharply after both of the last presidential elections, fueled by fears that an Obama presidency would lead to restricted access to firearms. Sales have also jumped following mass shootings and moments when gun control rises to the top of the national conversation.
October marked the 18th month in a row that the number of FBI background checks set a monthly record, putting 2016 on track to shatter the previous annual record.
Sales and angst have ramped up in recent weeks as the election grows closer.