Paranoia: Bad for Stock Markets, Good for Gun Sellers

Earlier today, Alan Gottlieb got a call from a member of his Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms wondering if the committee sold ammunition in bulk. Firearm enthusiasts are having a hard time loading up on bullets, or even the guns themselves, as they disappear at record speed from sporting goods stores nationwide.

"The run on guns and ammunition is real," Gottlieb says. Blame the Obama administration, but it also means that one industry is doing well in the midst of the economic apocalypse.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation publishes the number of requests for instant criminal background checks they received each year. The most common reason for asking for the insta-check is gun sales. Over the last decade, the number of checks each month ranged between 500,000 and 1.2 million. But in November 2008 the number of checks jumped over 1.5 million and has stayed well above the monthly average ever since.

The man who answered the phone at Butch's Discount Guns off Green Lake says ammunition has been flying off the shelves much faster than manufacturers can resupply area stores. But when I asked why he responded: "I can't answer that and I wouldn't answer that to the news." Then he politely got off the phone.

The man answering the phone at Stan Baker Sports on Lake City Way also wouldn't give his name, but was far more direct about why people might be stocking up on guns and ammo. "It's a general concern that Obama and his buddies are going to be kicking down our front doors," he says, adding that he expects Storm Troopers are on the horizon. "Keep voting for them liberals and pretty soon you'll have no freedom left at all." Then he hung up the phone.

Gottlieb says for most gun owners the prospect of Storm Troopers is less urgent than the concern that the Obama administration will seriously crack down on the number and type of guns and ammunition available. Earlier this year, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) introduced HR 45 to tighten requirements for background checks and other licensing rules. Gottlieb says he doesn't expect Rush's bill to pass Congress, but he does think that with support from the likes of the President and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, parts of the legislation will be slipped into other bills. "People are stockpiling," he says.

But while it might difficult for gun lovers to find ammo, all that demand's been good for business, says Howard, a salesman at Wade's Eastside Guns in Bellevue. Howard says not only is his employer not feeling the effects of the recession, sales are up.

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