It has happened again in America. Another slaughter of innocent people with firearms has brought about a spike in gun sales. And it seems like the worse the carnage created by guns is, the more new guns are sold.
On Friday July 1, the FBI very quietly released background check information for the month of June. That month, which saw the biggest mass shooting in modern American history, also saw a huge spike in background checks, which means that a record number of people decided to buy guns. According to FBI data, the bureau conducted more than 2.1 million background checks in June 2016, compared to 1.5 million a year earlier. This puts 2016 on pace to be a record year for gun sales.
The FBI is quick to point out that background checks do not equal gun sales. Some people are turned down. Others buy multiple weapons under one check. And private sales that are not conducted by a federally licensed firearms dealer do not go through the system at all. But there is a strong correlation between the number of background checks and the number of gun sales. More checks equal more sales. That’s only common sense.
Gun dealers have a sort of “love-hate” relationship with politicians like President Obama, as several of them recently admitted to CNN Money. Back in May, reporter Aaron Smith went to the NRA convention in Louisville, Kentucky, where he talked to a number of gun sellers. Dealer Mike O’Dell told Smith,
Every time a politician opens their mouth and says something possibly in the negative, it definitely affects gun sales.
Smith asks O’Dell flat out if he considers President Obama to be the best gun salesman in America. O’Dell smiles. “We think he is, yeah,” he replies.
The president has been the “best gun salesman in America” simply by being in the White House, judging by background check statistics. In November and December 2008 background checks spiked following his election, and dire warnings from the NRA that “Obama is coming for your guns.” When people realized that gun control was not at or even near the top of the new president’s list, things settled down a bit. But the number of background checks continued to increase at a steady pace, and when 20 children and six adults were slaughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December of 2012 the number of checks skyrocketed, helping make that year a record one for guns.
That record was eclipsed in 2015, when background checks in December topped 3.3 million following the shootings in San Bernardino, California, pushing the year’s total to 23.1 million. Through the first six months of 2016 there have been almost 14 million background checks performed, putting this year on pace to beat 2015’s record.
It’s amazing to contrast America’s response to these tragedies to that of Australia, where a 1996 mass shooting spurred the conservative government of Prime Minister John Howard to take action on guns. Australians willingly turned in some 640,000 firearms following that massacre in Port Arthur, Tasmania. Gun related homicides fell by 7.5 percent a year following the gun law reforms, and Australia has not had another mass shooting since.
But don’t try to convince Americans that following Australia’s model is the way to go. Tragedy here just means that people feel the need to grab as many guns as they can, for fear of having them taken away. Marty Daniel, who runs “Daniel Defense,” told CNN’s Smith that last year was his company’s biggest year ever. Then he added, “We’re going to pass last year’s number in July this year.”
O’Dell says that politicians are trying to use tragedies to “get our guns out of the hands of people.” He adds, “That just makes people want them more.” He says it’s the American mentality. “You’re telling me I can’t have that? Well, I want one more now,” he says.
Gun dealers see continued profit under a Hillary Clinton presidency. “Who do you think is a better gun salesman, Trump or Hillary?” Smith asks O’Dell.
“Hillary,” O’Dell laughs.
Daniel agrees. “If Hillary is elected, we will have the best four years we could ever have,” he says.
Here’s the video, via CNN:
Featured image via CNN screen capture