A site selling ammunition via the internet has, presumably tongue-in-cheek, questioned the National Rifle Association’s announced plans to vigorously oppose Barack Obama’s reelection. In a brief post above an embeddable graphic offered free for users to install on their own web sites, Ammo.net states: “The Greatest Gun Salesman In America: President Barack Obama”:
Ironically, the perceived hostility towards gun owners by President Obama has actually helped the firearms industry tremendously. Since the 2008 election, more Americans than ever before are purchasing firearms & ammunition. This has meant massive increases in sales by firearm & ammunition makers, billions more in federal and state tax collections related to guns & ammo, increased membership in the NRA, and hundreds of thousands of new Americans carrying concealed handguns. Therefore, should the firearms industry support President Obama for a second term or not?
That “perceived hostility” certainly boosted sales. Immediately after the 2008 election, there was a wave of gun-buying at least partly sparked by fears that Obama would seek new restrictions on gun ownership. For a while, ammunition was in short supply and became considerably more expensive.
The reality is that in the past four years, even though gun-law reformers have pressed hard, and did so especially in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona last year, the Obama administration has scarcely mentioned guns. The president did sign a law in 2009 permitting visitors to carry loaded guns in National Parks. But the hate radio-fueled, NRA-promoted belief that Obama has a secret plan to confiscate firearms the minute he gets the chance continues without cease.
Ammo.net’s “greatest salesman” ad emerged out of a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference two weeks ago in which NRA chief Wayne La Pierre wildly claimed that Obama’s relative silence on gun control is “all part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and destroy the Second Amendment in our country. Obama himself is no fool. So when he got elected, they concocted a scheme to stay away from the gun issue, lull gun owners to sleep and play us for fools in 2012.”
Given that recent Supreme Court cases have cemented the rights of gun-owning Americans as never before and that 41 states will issue a permit to carry a concealed handgun to any adult without a criminal or mental health record, the NRA’s key role now seems to be ensuring that operations like Ammo.net keep making plenty of sales. Stirring up paranoia serves that purpose quite well and La Pierre is a master at it. It’s nothing new. When the flood of gun and ammo sales got going after Obama’s election, Rick Gray, owner of the Accuracy Gun Shop in Las Vegas, said: “Clinton was the best gun salesman the gun manufacturers ever had. Obama’s going to be right up there with him.”
But before Clinton, there was another president who the NRA adored. He was nearly assassinated in March 1981, but fully recovered. However, his press secretary, James Brady, suffered a devastating head wound that put him in a wheel chair and spurred his wife and others to push what has become known as the Brady law, the Handgun Violence Prevention Act. Anathema to the NRA.
Of that law, Ronald Reagan wrote on the 10th anniversary of his attempted assassination:
This nightmare might never have happened if legislation that is before Congress now—the Brady bill—had been law back in 1981.
Named for Jim Brady, this legislation would establish a national seven-day waiting period before a handgun purchaser could take delivery. It would allow local law enforcement officials to do background checks for criminal records or known histories of mental disturbances. Those with such records would be prohibited from buying the handguns.
Debate about and passage of that law in 1993 sparked a multi-year surge of gun buying. Yet Ronald Reagan gets no credit as a great gun salesman?
Americans are secure in their right to own guns for protection, for hunting, for target-shooting. But nobody seems able to protect us from conspiracy-mongering hate-mongers like La Pierre and scores of radio talk show hosts whose real goals seems to be improving gun dealer profits.