Our friends in the pawn industry know firsthand that consumer buying trends are notoriously hard to predict. Today’s Wall Street Journal has a story about one of those times when consumer behavior has seemed downright counter-intuitive.
Whatever side of the political aisle you happen to be on, you probably expect that the election of Republicans would benefit the firearms industry. On the flip-side, you might think that when Democrats (who tend to favor gun control policies) do well at the polls, gun sellers would suffer.
It turns out there is so much more to the story. The Wall Street Journal has spotlighted the surprising trend that the election of Democrats tends to drive gun sales way up. It turns out that when firearms enthusiasts see gun control laws being proposed, they collectively go out and buy lots of guns in order to get ahead of the restrictions.
Many people are not aware that the AR-15 was introduced to the civilian market in 1964 by Colt. Marketed as a “superb hunting partner”, sales never really took off until 1977 when the patent expired.
Opposition to certain firearms intensified after a horrific 1977 schoolyard shooting in Stockton, California. In 1994, then-President Clinton signed the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that restricted production of various semi-automatic weapons. The expiration of the Ban in 2004 led to dramatically increased production. In the following 4 years over a million AR-style rifles were manufactured.
Fast forward a few years to the Obama presidency: former President Obama’s calls for restrictions and bans on production of assault rifles has sparked what has been called the “anxious buyer” to rush to purchase while they still can. As a result, gun sales skyrocketed.
An interesting fact cited in the article, according to a recent Harvard study, is that about 8% of all gun owners own 39% of the firearms in the US. This has boosted the design and manufacturing of different models of firearms to increase sales to those buyers.
Some say that the “anxious buyer” phenomena has declined in recent years. Frequent news coverage of shootings has failed to lead to the actual passage of much substantive regulation. Others think that the election of President Trump has simply calmed the anxiety, which would come roaring back the next time a Democrat makes it to the White House. Either way, manufacturers have responded to the recent decline by designing, as manufacturers do, for the next generation of buyers, appealing to a broader base of new consumers.
We at Pease and Curren are always interested in stories that show us how business, like life, often defies our best efforts to predict the future. As precious metals refiners we are no stranger to volatile sales cycles. All we can do is know our market and provide superior service and results. Over a century in business has taught us how to ride the wave of the good times and survive and thrive through the bad ones.
Did you know? AR-15 does not stand for “assault rifle”? The “AR” stands for the original manufacturer back in the 50’s, ArmaLite
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