Only 10 shopping days till the big gun grab


President-elect Barack Obama hasn’t even taken office yet. But he’s already got one big group of Americans on their feet and moving.

What is Barack Obama’s position on the rights to bear arms?

Sen. Obama’s campaign Web site said he “respects the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms.” It promised he will “protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport and use guns.”

Seeking to reassure gun owners, candidate Obama told a campaign audience in Ohio in October: “I will not take your shotgun away. I will not take your rifle away. I won’t take your handgun away.”

But the crowds mobbing America’s gun stores and gun shows since Nov. 4 say a large number of Americans — including first-time gun-buyers — don’t believe it.

In 2003, while serving in the Illinois State Legislature, Barack Obama voted in favor of a bill in the Judiciary Committee that would have made it illegal to “knowingly manufacture, deliver or possess” a so-called “semi-automatic assault weapons,” reports Chris Cox, chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. “Under this bill, a firearm did not actually have to be semi-automatic to be banned. According to definitions in the bill, all single-shot and double-barreled shotguns 28-gauge or larger, and many semi-automatic shotguns of the same size, would be banned as ‘assault weapons.’

“Any Illinois resident who possessed one of these commonly used guns 90 days after the effective date would have had to ‘destroy the weapon or device, render it permanently inoperable, relinquish it to a law enforcement agency, or remove it from the state.’ Anyone who still possessed a banned gun would have been subject to a felony sentence.”

In an April television debate, Sen. Obama argued someone else on his staff improperly filled out a 1996 questionnaire stating support for a ban on the manufacture, sale, and possession of handguns — even after ABC News’ Charlie Gibson told Obama “Your writing was on the questionnaire.”

And the National Shooting Sports Foundation sent out mailers in October warning that — while in The U.S. Senate — Sen. Obama voted for versions of Senate Bill 397 that could have bankrupted gun manufacturers by allowing them to be sued for misuse of their products (“equivalent to holding car makers responsible for drunk driving,” the group said), as well as for a 500 percent tax increase on guns and ammo and a ban on virtually all deer-hunting ammunition.

Americans aren’t waiting to see which Barack Obama takes office, this month. They’re voting with their feet, and their billfolds.

The promoter of one Las Vegas gun show over the Thanksgiving weekend advertised on TV and radio that it would be “the last (local) gun show before the big gun ban.”

Rhetorical overkill? Gun and ammo buyers didn’t think so. Despite a soft economy, the place was mobbed, with folks lined up half-way around the building to get in.

Glen Parshall of Bargain Pawn in North Las Vegas told me shortly after Election Day that sales were already “through the roof. I can’t get anything. I mean handguns, rifles, ammo, you name it. Ammo’s doubled in (wholesale) price in the past week if you can find it. I had a line of people waiting for me this morning when I showed up for work, waiting to buy AR-15s. Everybody’s fearful of the messiah, very, very much fearful, I mean hanging their heads and cannot believe he got elected fearful.

“We had that rush in ’94 when they passed the first so-called assault weapons ban, but that’s nothing compared to what we’ve got going on now. I mean, people come through the door asking me ‘If I buy this now, they won’t be able to confiscate it next year, will they’? I tell them ‘My crystal ball is in the shop.’

“My biggest distributors nationwide, they’ve got a strict allocation of two AR-15 rifles per week per dealer — if they get them. Everybody wants ’em. Brownell’s is out of everything: nuts and bolts and screws. I just got done ordering a few barrels and upper receivers a few nights ago, but they’re out of magazines. I can’t buy a Glock anywhere in the country except the oddball ones, weird calibers or the ones in green with orange slides, things like that. I did find a couple ARs last week, match rifles that go for $2,000, I’ve got those coming in for customers.

“In October before this all started, my sales were approximately double what they were last October. This week it’s up more than that, and It’d be a hell of a lot higher if I had anything. People are looking for handguns, looking for rifles, looking for magazines.

“Ammunition? 7.62-by-39 was $180 a case last month, now it’s $350 for a (thousand-round) case. .223 was $300 a case, I haven’t been able to find any, but it would run me over $400 if I could get any. A guy across town got in two pallets” (about 100,000 rounds) “of 9 millimeter, it lasted about a day and a half. It’s absolutely mind-boggling. I’m still selling a lot of revolvers. I can’t get short shotguns.”

But why do his customers believe the Democrats will impose more gun bans, I asked Mr. Parshall, who’s sold guns and gold in Las Vegas for decades. After all, aren’t crime rates highest precisely where law-abiding citizens are barred from carrying weapons for their own defense?

“That’s not what they care about. They’re socialists. They want to be in total control.”

I stopped by Glen’s in person, a few days later, to see if the shelves were really bare. What I noticed there and at a local gun show two weeks later is that buyers are being selective. M-1 Garands are still plentiful at $1,000. (Yes, I remember when they were $350. Wish I’d bought more. But this is not a big hike from a year ago.) Enfield No. 4s and even 1903-A3 turnbolt rifles can still be found — the former at wonderful bargain prices, since Americans consider them “clunky.” There were also plenty of shotguns available.

“Yes, but only with long barrels,” Glen points out. “The short-barrelled shotguns I can’t keep on the rack.”

Customers are mainly buying up — and driving up the price of — what they figure the politicians might be first to grab: military-looking semi-auto AR15s and AK-47s, pistol-grip shotguns better suited to clearing a house than to upland game. When I asked for those rounds at the gun show Sunday, I was shown the bare spot on the floor where the pallets had been piled five feet high with boxes the day before.

My advice? Don’t panic and buy on the up-side of a “bubble.” Stock up gradually, allocating a certain amount per month, the same way you should be allocating a fixed amount to buy and “salt away” gold and silver — the same percentage of your income dad and mom used to set aside in a savings account.

Buy quality, buy versatility, buy stopping power . . . but buy the more old-fashioned rifles and handguns — and their fodder — that others leave behind. They work, and they’ll hold their value.

“People are terrified of losing their right to protect themselves,” DeWayne Irwin, owner of Cheaper Than Dirt, the large gun store in Ft. Worth, Texas, told the Chicago Tribune. “The volume is ten times what we ever expected. It started with assault rifles, but at this point, people are buying ammunition, high capacity magazines, Glocks — it’s all flying off the shelf. With the economy the way it is, people are worried about instability. They are scared of civil unrest.”

“Why are white people buying assault weapons?” asks Ben Agger, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Arlington who wrote a book about the Virginia Tech slayings. “I almost hate to say it, but there is a deep-seated fear of the armed black man, because Obama now commands the military and other instruments of the justice system,” Professor Agger told the Chicago Tribune, a newspaper which routinely refers to semi-automatic rifles as “assault rifles,” which they are not. (Try to find the full-auto selector switch.) “They are afraid Obama will exact retribution for the very deep-seated legacy of slavery,” Professor Agger figures.

Oh, give me a break. What we’re seeing in the gun stores this winter is not a nation arming itself for revolt, but Americans in a thoroughly defensive mode, stocking up now to avoid the Democratic gun bans they believe are coming.

What many Americans fear is that Barack Obama — aided by congressional allies like Senators Dianne Feinstein of California and Charles Schumer of New York — will revert to his true, pre-campaign nature come Jan. 20, and once more try to take away Americans’ guns.

Obama “says he’s in favor of common sense gun laws,” DeWayne Irwin told the Tribune. “Well, what people up north think is common sense is something different from us down here in Texas. The criminals have all this illegal stuff. I don’t want to fight them with a handgun if I can get an AK. I’m entitled to that. I should be able to defend my home.”

Democrats have tried before, after all. In fact, a notable public figure said after Republicans recaptured Congress in 1994 that that happened precisely because Democrats tried to take away Americans’ guns.

Who was that insightful analyst?

Bill Clinton.

3 Comments to “Only 10 shopping days till the big gun grab”

  1. M. Mills Says:


    “I almost hate to say it, but there is a deep-seated fear of the armed black man, because Obama now commands the military and other instruments of the justice system,”

    I was at the gun show in my city last week, and took my “Concealed Carry” class there. My city is 10% black, 5% hispanic and 2% Asian and other racial groups according to the latest city wide calculations. 1/3 of the citizens that were at the gun show and the class were black. The blacks citizens appeared to be buying up the same types of firearms and ammo that the white customers were.

  2. Charles Bates Says:

    I read a similar article in the Dec. 14th, 2009 issue of Shotgun News. Vin states that in February Attorney General Holder announced the administration’s plans to restore the ban on “assault weapons”. I understand that this attempt was squelched by the White House, and so far as I know it’s dead. Does anyone have any knowledge about current administration plans to restrict firearms ownership?

  3. Punky Says:

    Non issue.As some may remember, I’ve been dnialbbg in the 3D printing world a bit. It’s not that easy getting things to work right.Plastic parts have a lot of limitations. The durability is just not there.Now, I’m still working on a mag design. But I’m giving up on a totally plastic part, and will have to reinforce the part with sheet metal inserts. (I should have a testable part by the weekend.)The point is, I can, and so could anyone else, build ANYTHING. And I don’t need a 3D printer to do it. A hacksaw, hand drill and a file. Plus a little brain power, and it’s on!Oh yeah, I’ve also got drawings for a bolt together AR lower.