I've been through a lot of sales surges in my time, but this one is new.
Normally (by which I mean since the 90's), a gun-buying spree happens when it looks like a new version of the 1994 ban will kick in. Owners who don't want to deal with it stock up on targeted firearms (usually handguns, AK's, AR's, standard capacity magazines, 80% lowers, and the like). Then the bans don't happen, and over a series of months, supply catches up to demand. This is what happened in the 04, 08, 12, and 16 elections, as well as after Sandy Hook.
This happens because every gun control proposal at the federal level has been low-risk high-reward political theater, and everyone knows it. Whether it's bans or universal background checks (which we already have the only enforceable form of), they accomplish three things for the Democrats:
One, they don't cost the government much to implement. Nor do they impose new taxes on rich donors. It's a new law on the books, just add it to the purview of the cops. Grandfather clauses on already-owned weapons are nearly always added, as confiscation costs much more than banning new ones.
Two, it lets your voter base think you've accomplished something.
Three, everyone you pissed off wasn't going to vote for you anyway, so you've lost nothing.
(Republicans pull the same one-two-three bullshit pattern with abortion restrictions, for much the same reasons.)
But that's business as usual.
Here's what's going on now.
What I'm seeing few and far between on the gun store shelves these days are low-end to middle-of-the-road handguns. Ditto for AR and AK platforms, and pump shotguns with shorter barrels.
What's still on the shelves? AR 80% lowers. High-end AR's and pistols. Single-action revolvers. Lever-action rifles. Long-barrelled hunting shotguns.
In other words, we're not seeing gun nuts adding to the hoard. We're seeing a lot of middle-class and working-class folks who never owned a gun before making the decision to get one to defend themselves and their families while they still can. And they're buying as affordably and effectively as they can.
What's being left behind are either too expensive or less than ideal for self and home defense. Not worthless, just too expensive or less than ideal for the intended jobs.
The FBI data backs me up on this, with somewhere between 40% and 60% of the background checks this year being new owners.
Ammo shortage is also an issue. Every manufacturer is working at capacity. Going any further would involve expensive investment in machinery in the middle of a pandemic that's unlikely to pay off over the payment plans they can get on such machines. On top of that, the pandemic has also affected their supply chains. You need lead and copper and brass in serious quantity if you're going to be making cartridges. Which means mines and smelters need to be operating. Not to mention ships and trucks.
Which means ammo is hard to find and expensive if you can find it. Good old fashioned 9mm, it's almost impossible to find the FMJ that was easy to get ahold of anywhere for $.20 or $.30 a round back in January. High-end JHP carry ammo at over $1/round MIGHT be on the shelf, if you're lucky.
So where does that leave us now?
Well, I won't say it's too late if you're making the decision to arm yourself to defend yourself now.
I will say your options are now limited.
Don't be jerks to the gun store folks. They're retail drones like anyone else, only they have a federal agency of their very own breathing down their necks.
Don't try to buy anything off of a gun nut friend. Even if it is legal in your state, a lot of people showed their ass in the run-up to and immediately after the Foster/Perry shooting. Some of the gun nuts are still keeping an eye on bargains and will point you to one if asked, but not at our own stashes.
What does this bode for the future?
Nobody knows, folks. I think a magic 8 ball would explode if I even asked.
The riots and protests are increasingly dying down for now. They've been going all summer and nobody's acquired new rallying points and/or martyrs to the causes. If any of them does, that can change overnight. But even this past weekend's protests at Stone Mountain wound up in small brawls over dick size than shootings and melees.
Effectively, every protest has about 20 factions in play.
None of them want to be the one to fire the first shot.
ALL of them want to be the first one to shoot back.
(The Foster/Perry shooting looks like it's being quietly written off as them defending themselves against each other, which lets everyone involved save face)
The protests are also facing heavy resistance to expansion. A lot of smaller cities have seen what's happened elsewhere, decided they wanted none of that, and ran the protests out of town before they even started.
In other words, the quiet/silent majority is getting tired of the bullshit.
Things that can make the protests renew or expand:
eviction moratoriums are being lifted all across the country and the end of the month is coming up fast.
Not even a half-assed replacement to the federal UI kicker is in play.
And we're either on a second wave or never finished the first one, with a 7-day average of over 1K deaths in the US going for over two weeks now.
Harris and her track record on gun control is heavier than many. If she starts leading in the polls big, we might get a normal surge on top of this one. I wouldn't be surprised to see people quietly stocking up on ammo just in case.
I already mentioned the lines the protesters and even the rioters are unwilling to cross. There's another one.
Thus far, the riot damage (and I mean breaking, looting, and burning) has largely limited itself to businesses and government buildings. I've heard of onesies and twosies of upper floor apartments that happened to be over a business being burned, but by and large it's been restricted to businesses and government buildings.
And while it's hard to care about government buildings these days and businesses are in a gray area (It's easy to argue they're not worth lives if it's not YOUR life's work going up in flames. Cities demanding taxes before allowing rebuilding ain't helping.), neither of them hold the place we do for homes.
There have been a couple instances of protest mobs showing up on the front lawns of various politicians, to varying degrees of success.
But while the protests have reached homes, the riots haven't yet. It's a line I don't think anyone's willing to cross at the moment.
I've thought a lot about how the election will affect such things, but we're too far out and there's too much in play. I don't want to start worrying people with potentials that are still vague guesswork.
Take care of yourselves out there.