Un­der Trump, gun sales fall dra­mat­i­cally

Pur­chas­ing re­turn­ing to sea­sonal pat­tern

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY DAVID SHERFINSKI

Gun sales ap­pear to be slip­ping yet again af­ter the Obama surge, with fed­eral gun back­ground checks drop­ping more than 20 per­cent last month — the big­gest monthly per­cent­age de­cline in more than three years.

With Pres­i­dent Trump now firmly in of­fice, the fear of new fed­eral con­trols that could re­strict own­er­ship has faded, said Alan Got­tlieb, chair­man of the Cit­i­zens Com­mit­tee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

“Gun own­ers no longer feel highly threat­ened by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion or by a fu­ture Hil­lary Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Mr. Got­tlieb said. “As a re­sult, the rush to buy guns is no longer there.”

The num­ber of pur­chases run through the Na­tional In­stant Crim­i­nal Back­ground Check Sys­tem, known as NICS, dropped from about 2.2 mil­lion in July 2016 to 1.7 mil­lion last month, mark­ing the sev­enth time in the eight full months since Mr. Trump’s elec­tion that there’s been a month-to-month drop. Mr. Obama over­saw 19 straight months of in­creases to­ward the tail end of his time in of­fice.

Mr. Trump had run in part on his sup­port for gun rights, se­cur­ing the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion’s ear­li­est-ever pres­i­den­tial en­dorse­ment. Mean­while, Mrs. Clin­ton, the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee, had ad­vo­cated stricter con­trols on the cam­paign trail.

Storm Ruger CEO Christo­pher Kil­loy said on a re­cent con­fer­ence call with an­a­lysts that sum­mers are also tra­di­tion­ally a tougher time for sales and that the in­dus­try is re­turn­ing to a more nor­mal­ized, sea­sonal pat­tern.

He did ac­knowl­edge, though, that de­mand had slowed “con­sid­er­ably” in the sec­ond quar­ter com­pared to the same pe­riod last year, in the midst of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, and that some of the elec­tion­re­lated sales boom could have en­ticed buy­ers to speed up their pur­chases last year, rather than wait.

“I think there was a big han­gover com­ing off the elec­tion cy­cle, for sure, that had to be worked off,” Mr. Kil­loy said on the call, ac­cord­ing to Fox Busi­ness Net­work.

Other gun-rights sup­port­ers ac­knowl­edge the July drop, but say the checks are still near the re­cent his­tor­i­cally high lev­els. The 1.7 mil­lion fed­eral checks in July were the sec­ond-high­est to­tal ever for the month.

“One would think the de­mand for pur­chas­ing guns is wan­ing if you only com­pare this year’s to­tals to last year’s all-time highs,” said Erich Pratt, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for Gun Own­ers of Amer­ica. “But dur­ing ev­ery month this year, gun sales have ei­ther set a new record — as seen in May — or they have come in sec­ond or third place.”

The records run through NICS aren’t a one-toone cor­re­la­tion to gun sales, but are of­ten used as a gen­eral ap­prox­i­ma­tion for the mar­ket.

The Na­tional Shoot­ing Sports Foun­da­tion does its own monthly cal­cu­la­tions that sub­tract out some per­mit checks to pro­vide a bet­ter sense of the mar­ket, and cal­cu­lated an even big­ger per­cent­age drop — 25 per­cent — in July from the pre­vi­ous year.

“While down from the 2016 all-time record, this past July was the third high­est on record and 2017 is still on track to be a strong year on a his­toric ba­sis,” NSSF spokesman Michael Bazinet said in an email.

But gun con­trol ad­vo­cacy groups say firearms com­pa­nies and gun-rights ad­vo­cates are grap­pling with the loss of their “bo­gey­man” in the White House in Mr. Obama.

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