Miles of Guns: A bright spot in the US economy
by Jeff Knox
It has been suggested that Barack Obama is the greatest firearm salesman in history, and with good reason. Gun sales have boomed under Obama’s watch. Gun companies have reported record sales, and, contrary to the claims of the anti-rights crowd, surveys indicate that the growth isn't just due to existing gun owners building bigger collections, but to many new, first-time gun buyers.
Of course Obama doesn't deserve all of the credit; he had lots of help from fellow politicians, gun control organizations, and the media. They place the "blame" for record gun sales on rights groups whipping gun buyers into a feeding frenzy of panic buying by making exaggerated claims of impending gun bans and restrictions. And, while there's no doubt that pro-gun groups do sound the alarm at the slightest provocation, you'd think the anti-rights folks would figure out that it's their provocation that instigates the alarms and the resultant buying – and voting – response. As prominent rights leader, Alan Gottlieb, recently pointed out, if the real objective of the anti-rights crowd was to reduce the number of guns on the street, they have not only failed miserably, they are the root cause of their own failure. Tens of thousands of Americans have bought guns – especially threatened "assault-style" guns – due to threats created by gun control proponents.
What is most important to note however, is that there has been no corresponding rise in gun crime to go along with the tremendous rise in gun ownership. Two decades of steady increases in gun sales, including five years of record growth, have corresponded with steady declines in criminal misuse of firearms. While economists and statisticians can argue about whether the increase in guns was a factor in the falling crime rates, there can be no argument about whether more guns in civilian hands caused increases in firearms abuse. Clearly it did not.
But politics aside, in the midst of the worst economy since the Great Depression (as it was called during the Bush administration), the firearms and ammunition industries are among the only businesses that have been thriving, and there’s no greater proof of the health of these industries than the annual Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show going on this week in Las Vegas. The SHOT Show is the largest firearms trade show in the world, with over 1600 exhibitors filling over 630,000 square feet of space, drawing over 62,000 industry professionals from all 50 states and over 100 countries. And while manufacturers from all over the world are represented, the major success stories are made in the USA.
Companies like Patriot Ordinance Factory, a Phoenix-based manufacturer of innovative,high-end, AR15-style rifles, wouldn't have it any other way. POF founder and CEO Frank Desomma not only makes it a point to use US made parts, he insists on US sourced steel and other raw materials for everything his company manufactures. Desomma takes the "Patriot" part of the company's name very seriously, and that, along with an uncompromising commitment to quality, and a genius for innovative designs – such as his new E2positioned this small company as a premier AR maker that stands out in a crowded field.
A similar story has played out at Kahr Arms. Where Justin Moon has taken designs he started sketching during his college days and turned them into one of the most popular and respected brands in the market. With the success of those innovative designs, he is building a small empire in the gun industry. In recent years Kahr has acquired established arms makers Thompson Auto Ordinance and Magnum Research. Moon has upgraded and expanded both of those companies and continues to grow Kahr as a leader in the area of compact and sub-compact personal defense firearms with reputations for reliability, accuracy, and shooting comfort.
The excellence of Moon's design innovations is proven by the frequency with which his competitors infringe on his patents. And even though he manages several family businesses in Korea, Moon keeps his firearms businesses solidly planted in the USA. He recently announced that Kahr's headquarters would be moving from New York to the more gun-friendly state of Pennsylvania.
At the pinnacle of US firearms manufacturing is Sturm Ruger, a publicly held company that has made its shareholders a tidy profit in the past several years. Like POF and Kahr, Sturm Ruger was built on the genius of an individual who had a better idea. Bill Ruger wasn't only a design wizard – for both guns and manufacturing processes – he also had an eye for what the buyers wanted. Starting with a solid, stylish, and accurate .22 pistol, he built an industry leader that sold over 1,000,000 guns last year. And every one of those guns was made in the USA.
With the critical mid-term elections coming up this November, it's important to understand that firearms manufacturers aren't just providing Americans with the tools of liberty, they are providing them with jobs, manufacturing infrastructure, an economic base, and an incubator for America's entrepreneurial spirit. Hopefully in this election, the anti-rights crowd will be taught again that threats of gun control don't just accelerate gun sales, they shorten politicians' careers.
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