December 2008

Downrange: 12/08

Idle Speculation, Or the Coming Storm?

Last month’s editorial commented on the likelihood that Barack H. Obama would become president of the United States. That likelihood has become certitude. He’ll be sworn in on January 20, 2009—a little over a month from now.

That fact has affected the gun market in a way I’ve seen only once

Todd Woodard
before—the day after 9-11. We are seeing what I can only describe as panic buying for civilian self-defense rifles, in particular, semiautomatic AR-15s, AK-47s, SKSes, FALs, and so on.

Kevin Winkle, owner of Winkle’s Great Guns and one of Gun Tests’ federal firearms license dealers, wrote me to say, "I called the nation’s largest gun distributor today, and they were completely sold out of every brand of AR-15 and AK-47 style rifles, magazines and ammunition. They did not know when more would arrive or what the price would be.

"Another distributor told me they were completely sold out of Glock 17 pistols and magazines.

"Barack Obama has said he is in favor of a stronger version of the 1994 Assault Weapons ban. The 2007 Joe Biden Crime Bill was worse than the Clinton 1994 ban. There is no doubt in my mind we will see the same push again, and this time it will probably pass without any 10-year sunset provision.

"Clearly, the time to buy is now. You might get lucky and find some new old stock at your local gun store still marked at the old price. I recently went into an Academy Sports and Outdoors and found a Ruger Mini-14 for $599. The current dealer price is over $650. Used ones on major auction sites are $600, with new ones selling for nearly $800.

"It is definitely the time to buy ammunition. Although ammo prices have risen by over 50% in the last two years, people fear that a 10-cents-a-round tax might be levied on ammunition, so they are buying by the case.

"The president with his executive power can accomplish many things without the aid of Congress, not that most of them would be opposing him. No licenses could be granted for the importation of firearms. Bill Clinton used that tactic to some degree, simply asking other countries not to sell arms to the United States. Bill Clinton’s BATF policies drove 80% of licensed dealers out of business and reduced the number of dealers from 245,000 in 1992 to around 50,000 today.

"On the other hand the BATF has told many individuals selling guns at gun shows that they have to obtain a hard-to-get FFL, or they will be charged with selling guns without a license. Go to a gun show today while you still can.

"A savvy friend of mine told me in 1985 that purchasing a machine gun would be a good idea. I could have bought a Colt M16 for less than $1000; today they are around $20,000 and go up in value every year. I still regret not getting one today."

My advice to our readers: Get the best guns you can afford while they are still affordable. The following pages will give you some guidance on good ones to buy. GT