Christmas 2011 was very merry for firearms retailers

by Chad D. Baus

USA Today is reporting that FBI statistics on background checks suggest Santa left a record number of guns under Americans' Christmas trees this year.

From the article:

In the six days before Christmas, gun dealers submitted nearly half-a-million names for checks on criminal records and mental health issues, with 20% coming Dec. 23, according to news reports. That was the second-busiest gun-buying day in history, topped only by firearm purchases on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, The London Telegraph says.

Final tallies for the entire month haven't been released, but December gun purchases will eclipse November. As of last week, 1,534,414 names had been sent to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, The New York Times reported in an editorial. About 1% of buyers are typically rejected, the paper said.

USA Today notes the FBI cautions there is not a one-to-one correlation between background checks and the number of guns sold because of "varying state laws and purchase scenarios." For example, many customers bought multiple weapons. Exact sales are neither reported nor recorded.

The article examines varying opinions on why the popularity of guns is growing, citing comments from various sources around the country, including Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman Jim Irvine.

The National Rifle Association told the Telegraph that in the face of police budget cuts and layoffs, Americans were concerned about self-defense. The NRA told CBS News that sport shooting is more popular.

Gun dealers cite fear of crime tied to a bad economy, expanded concealed-carry laws or the fear that the federal government will either restrict ownership or confiscate firearms.

"There are a lot of people concerned about pending gun legislation and the sense about the current administration. People think future availability will be limited, and there's a feeling of get it while you can," Dave LaRue of Legendary Guns in Phoenix told the Telegraph, noting that sales were up 25% from last Christmas.

There are similar stories in Ohio and New Mexico, according to news reports.

"The first-time gun buyers are the ones worried about someone breaking into their home," dealer Jeff Miller told The Dayton Daily News. "People (who already own guns) are kind of hoarding a little."

Jim Irvine, chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association, cited several reasons, including "relaxed conceal-and-carry laws in Ohio, more women learning about guns and the pro-gun message resonating," the Daily News writes.

"Owning a gun for self-defense is like owning a fire extinguisher or smoke detectors for safety," Irvine said. "All of the fears about all of the nonsense about guns, they're really myths that are falling by the wayside."

Toby Hoover, executive director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, admits they are seeing "many people [who] think that these things ought to be holiday gifts, Christmas gifts for their families and their children, ...which means it's becoming sort of an accepted thing."

And what good news that is!

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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