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Gun sales soar in US presidential election year

By JohnThomas Didymus     Jun 20, 2012 in Business
Gun retailers in the U.S. are reporting a sharp increase in firearms sales as the 2012 presidential election approaches. The spike in gun sales is reminiscent of the boom the industry experienced in the election month of November 2008.
Analysts say that the 2008 spike came as a result of the fear that Democrats having regained control of Congress would introduce new gun control legislation that would make it difficult to acquire firearms.
The Wall Street Journal reports that in the six months following the 2008 presidential election, Smith & Wesson's stock tripled while Sturm Ruger shares jumped more than 80 percent as firearm sales soared.
Bret Jordan, stock analyst specializing in the firearms market, told Fox News: “It’s been a strong cycle. Sales of tactical rifles have been extremely strong. Personal handguns have had a steady rise since 2008. The kind of stuff that fits in the waistband for when someone tries to steal your gas can.”
He explains the cause of the increase in gun sales: “There’s a lot of speculation that the Second Amendment will be affected by the next presidential term... an executive was asked what he thought would happen if Obama was elected a second term and he said, ‘No one in the gun industry will tell you they like Obama, but everyone will vote for him.'"
Obama: 'Gun salesman of the year'
With another election approaching, analysts say the recent spike in firearms sales has earned President Obama the nickname of "salesman of the year," among industry operators. Fox News reports that Jason Hanson, a former CIA officer and personal security specialist, said, “It’s definitely the election year. People feel that Obama will serve second term and with it their gun rights taken away, so they are stocking up. They’re also worried that the economy is not getting any better and that they need to protect themselves."
According to Time, Olin Corp, a company based in Clayton, Missouri that manufactures bullets reported a sharp increase in ammunition sales during the first quarter of 2012. Time reports that the CEO of Olin acknowledged, during an April conference call with industry analysts, that the increase in sales may be "related to the election."
According to The Wall Street Journal, Smith & Wesson, and its rival Sturm Ruger and Co.(RGR), are enjoying a business boom. Sturm Ruger recorded a record net income in the last four years while Smith & Wesson reported its highest quarterly profits in the past two years, mostly from sales of handguns, sporting rifles and concealed carry pistols.
P. James Debney, chief executive of Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. (SWHC), admitted earlier in the year that the election is a factor in the rise of gun sales. But he said that "a much stronger installed user base... in terms of the consumer," is also a major contributory factor.
Jim Barrett, analyst at CL King and Associates, said: "If Obama is not re-elected, I would expect gun sales to cool. Having said that, the gun population has dramatically increased and I would expect a certain portion of the new owners are getting into it as a sport or a hobby, regardless of the presidential election."
In line with Barret's statement, analysts say there has been change in social acceptance of guns in the U.S. and an increase in female ownership. Some analysts think the social factors may sustain gun sales growth in the post-election period.
According to analysts, social attitudes toward firearms ownership has changed in parts of the country where people have traditionally not been gun enthusiasts, such as the Northeast. Overall acceptance of gun ownership has increased. Growth in background checks in the Northeast have tripled in the past three years and now exceed growth rates across the country and in the South, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Time reports that analysts are saying 2012 election will continue to have strong impact on sales. Demand for firearms and ammunition is expected to increase as the 2012 election approaches, and the increase will be accompanied by increases in price.
Time reports that a gun shop owner in Detroit said he normally sells 10 guns per day but he has been averaging about 30 gun sales a day in 2012. Gun shop owners also report background checks required for firearms transactions have increased for 22 months in a row.
According to Fox News, Mike Weeks, owner of Georgia Gun Store in Gainesville, said, “Sales usually increase this time of year with tax returns, but this year has been higher than most. People are scared their gun rights are going to be curtailed after the election."
The Wall Street Journal reports that in March, Sturm Ruger said it had received so many orders for guns that it had to stop taking orders temporarily due a heavy backlog. The company said that production and shipments in the first quarter of 2012 rose by more than 50 percent.
Firearms boom: The Zombie Apocalypse
Time notes another factor besides Obama that analysts say has pushed gun sales: The so-called "zombie apocalypse" hysteria.
As strange as it may sound to some, the rise in popular fascination with the subject of a zombie apocalypse triggered by media reports of "cannibalistic" crimes has translated into an increase in gun sales augmented by clever marketing strategies.
Digital Journal reports for instance, the exploitation of the zombie craze by a major ammunition manufacturer, Nebraska's Hornady Manufacturing Co. The company introduced Z-MAX bullets, purportedly ideal for "vaporizing zombie varmints."
According to Time, Lawrence Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said: “The whole zombie niche has taken off and the (gun) market has responded. It’s become a big thing in which people have these shooting competitions (to shoot zombie targets).”
Time speculates, tongue-in-cheek, the massive impact on gun and ammunition sales a zombie Obama set loose could make. "That would really make gun sales soar," Time remarks.
More about Gun sales, election year, 2012, Obama, 2012 election
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