Handgun Sales Up as Rifle Sales Fall

Guns.com recently reported on the rising sales of guns in Arizona and elsewhere. In fact, the Grand Canyon State is well on its way to breaking its yearly firearm sales record, set amid fears of increased gun control in the wake of President Barack Obama’s election.

But it appears that not all types of guns are selling at record levels, that is, if production of specific types of firearms is any indication. According the the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Americans gun manufacturers produced handguns at a markedly increased rate in 2010, but manufactured rifles at significantly reduced pace. The fluctuation in production – a link that almost certainly correlates to perceived buyer demand – may also have political barometric implications.

The data, derived from the ATF’s Interim Annual Firearm Manufacturing and Export Report, shows an 18.8 percent reduction in rifle production in 2010, with a 14.9 percent increase in handgun manufacture. Shotgun production decreased just 1.2 percent. The simultaneous increase in handgun production and decrease in rifle manufacture is unprecedented in the last decade.

Although manufacture numbers do not necessarily exactly mirror purchase statistics, the trend suggests that consumers are hasty to buy up handguns and more reluctant to pad their long gun cabinets. Many have pointed to a similar trend of “panic buying” that occurred in the wake of President Barack Obama’s election in 2008. At the time, consumer fears over potential gun control from the incoming Democratic administration led to unprecedented buying of ammo and firearms.

One wonders if the growing trend of handgun purchase indicates growing fears of a second presidential term for Mr. Obama, a term that many believe will include sweeping gun reform. Although the President has largely left gun control off of his first-term agenda, he has repeatedly indicated a desire to close the gun-show loophole and several other facets of the gun sale licensing and documentation process.

Fears from conservatives over another Democratic victory may not bode well for the current field of 2012 Republican hopefuls. Conservatives are gearing up for what looks to be an extremely crowded GOP primary, and one that includes a number of well-liked and qualified candidates. The recent additions of John Huntsman and Rick Perry to the race only heighten the buzz, while prominent conservative Sarah Palin has yet to throw her proverbial hat in the ring. Her doing so would certainly be a game-changing moment, and would heighten interest to a fever pitch.

With respect to gun control, the GOP presidential field displays a wide a range of political viewpoints. Mitt Romney, considered by many to be the early front-runner, has fielded criticism from gun rights activists over past comments that seemed to support a ban on assault weapons. On the flip side, Ron Paul, a self-described constitutionalist, has overwhelmingly stood behind the Second Amendment, even blasting the Patriot Act for its policies that allow law enforcement to investigate gun registries without a warrant.

In the meantime, consumers appear to be hedging their bets amidst GOP presidential uncertainty, and stocking up on handguns in the process. As the saying goes, a gun, much like a good guard dog, is sometimes the best insurance policy.

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