Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Zombies, Ammo, & Obama

Zombies, Ammo, and Obama
In case you haven’t noticed, zombies are a really hot cultural icon at the moment.  If this focus was purely a matter of entertainment, I would find it a bit bizarre, but no more weird than the romantic vampire theme that seems to have taken hold of the imagination of teenaged girls.  Ammunition manufacturers are even cashing in on this, with Hornady offering Zombie Max in a number of the common handgun, rifle, and shotgun calibers.  I would like to be amused, but I think this reflects a very serious issue—and one that the political class is ignoring to their peril.

Americans are arming in a really big way—and not for plinking or hunting. FBI background checks for firearms sales hit 1.266 million in February, “a gain of 31.4 per cent over the same month in 2011.”  At least some of those background checks were for people buying more than one gun at a time.  Many of these are going to first time gun owners. Publicly traded gun manufacturers, such as Sturm, Ruger, and Smith & Wesson, are flying high (to my pleasure, since I own shares of both).  Sturm, Ruger actually had to announce that it was no longer accepting new firearms orders, because it was so backlogged with existing demand. The ammunition shortages that we saw in 2008 and 2009, seem to be returning—at least based on the number of categories of ammunition showing up as “Out of Stock” at Cheaper Than Dirt!  At least Obama can make some part of the U.S. economy grow!

What is driving this enormous demand?  Guns are either an essential tool, or a luxury item.  For some Americans, that first gun, whether it is a rifle or a handgun, is something you buy because you live in a bad neighborhood, and need protection.  People may sacrifice a bit to buy their first gun, as I did when I bought a Colt Government Model handgun in 1981.  Normally, this volume of sales would make sense only in a very strong economy, or when people were not worried about their jobs.  But in this economy?  And with murder rates as low as they were in the early 1960s?   Americans are worried—and with these sales numbers, I think the zombie fixation and the gun buying mania are telling us something—something that is a bit worrisome.

My theory is that the focus on zombie apocalypse is how decent, law-abiding Americans confront a very dark fear: the collapse of American civilization.  Zombie movies put individuals up against merciless savages where there is no one to rely upon but yourself.  There is no government.  There is little to no community left—just you and a few friends against monsters.  I suspect that the possibility of economic collapse, as the national budget disaster spirals out of control, has a lot of people scared witless.  I don’t think this is subconscious, but a polite way for Americans to speak their fears in a way that sounds cute, instead of paranoid.

It is also apparent that fear of what the second Obama Administration will do with respect to gun control is driving much of the gun-buying frenzy.  If gun owners were a tiny minority (like Jews in Nazi Germany), I supposed that I could understand the sense of, “I have no other solution but to stock up and prepare for a police state.”  But the scale of these purchases tells me that gun ownership is extremely mainstream, and likely about to cross over into majority status, if it has not already.  More than 1.2 million gun sales a month means more than 14 million a year and guns are not consumables. 

If fear of Obama’s possible gun control actions, or of the coming budget apocalypse, is driving this, why does Obama have any chance to getting re-elected at all in November?  Perhaps many Americans have bought into the nihilist bumper sticker, “If voting changed anything, it would be illegal.”  I certainly run into many well-paid professionals who have stopped voting because they have concluded that we are beyond the point where elections can fix anything.  Or perhaps, like zombies, they are expecting the graveyards of Chicago to disgorge so many dead voters that it won’t matter who really wins in November, anyway.

All of this has me quite fearful for my country.  If you can cough up $500 for another gun, or $25 for a couple of boxes of ammunition, can you cough up $25 to help some candidate for Congress who isn’t corrupt enough to get money from PACs?  If you can spend several hours burning through 500 rounds of ammunition to get proficient with your new Ruger LCP, can you spend an hour voting in November to unseat Obama?

Don’t kid yourself: if America is reduced to a Mad Max situation, you are going to wish that you had spent the time trying to clean up the disaster without bloodshed. The real world will not end as positively as a Hollywood movie.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope I am wrong, Mr Cramer, and that you are right. But if I believed that $25 given to a career politician would do more good than a box of 40 S&W hollow point ammunition, then I would most assuredly spend my money where I believed it would do the most good.

Gary Griffin

hga said...

To the not so anonymous ^_^ Gary Griffin:

In general I agree with you, especially since my funds are generally quite limited; one thing I do look for is particularly leveraged situations where a few bucks might make a difference.

E.g. based on my usual news sources I realized Scott Brown had a real shot before that was generally known, and gave his campaign precious early money. And he did win and did the one thing I wanted him to do, not vote for Obamacare. And due to that the Supremes just finished their third day of debate on severability.

(As I understand it, the first bill the Senate passed was not in final form; the (usual) plan was that it was going into conference where it and the House versions would be reconciled and the usual boilerplate like a severability clause would be added. Instead, the only option was to have the House vote on the unfinished Senate version, which also provided even more bad optics, like the flirtation with "deemed passed".

Of course the Supremes can weasel out of their responsibilities here, they've done it before in this sort of situation, but it wouldn't have even came up if Brown had not been elected.)

Epsilon Given said...

At this point, we are so drenched in the Socialism mindset that I would be surprised if Republicans did anything but get us there more slowly.

Thus, even if Republicans win, I think it would be a good idea to prepare for collapse of the Federal Government. And if it doesn't happen, we'd be ready for plenty of plinking!

Windy Wilson said...

We had a similar discussion on a forum which has since closed and disappeared. "Reset" is not some painless and peaceful action. It is the equivalent of calling the artillery down on your position because the gooks are inside the wire and the consequences of not calling the artillery strike are more horrible than the effects of the strike.

PhaseMargin said...

I haven't purchased any guns for many years now, not from lack of desire but simply because I've been inheriting quite a few from both sides of the family. (And nicer guns than I could afford!) But I did break down and get a new gun when I got the concealed carry permit. Much of what I have had in the past was nice, but it wasn't very concealable being built in a time when CCW was difficult.

Perhaps the uptick in recent years is at least somewhat to do with the changes in CCW laws?

Randy Townsend said...

As a long-time gun owner and shooter (not everyone who owns a gun actually becomes proficient with it), I agree with Mr. Cramer's analysis completely. The people understand that Obama is toxic to private weapons ownership, but politically savvy enough to know what happens to his candidacy if he moves against private ownership. A second Obama term, however, would undoubtedly result in the mask coming off. Me? I'm voting against Obama, regardless of who the candidate is (and buying more ammo in case we lose). Final thought: What will you do if Obama says "Turn 'em all in." I've made that decision. Have you?

Randy Townsend

Ber950 said...

I don't think the current increase in sales is the election bubble. That will come in August or September if Obama's poll numbers look good. This is just more of what Michale Bane calls "Gun Culture 2.0".
We have passed the tipping point Katrina made sure of that and gun owners are not just mainstream we are moving into the majority. The Heller and McDonald decision have forced some formerly anti-gun fence sitters to realize that guns are not going anywhere and they had better get some of their own.

hga said...

Perhaps the uptick in recent years is at least somewhat to do with the changes in CCW laws?

Hmmm, after you learn you can carry concealed it does encourage you to think all sorts of self-reliant subversive thoughts.

KCSteve said...

I work at a Cabela's. Six of the top ten gun dealers in the country are Cabela's stores and we're one of those six. We do tend to be somewhat busy at the gun counter.

Our AR rack last year was two bays - one of 15's one of 10's. First the AR-10's dwindled to where we're lucky to keep one or two in stock. Now the AR-15's are starting to go - and fast. We try to keep the racks filled but we're running out of guns.

Handguns are also getting thinner than I've seen the year and half I've been here and that's at all price levels.

Normally business slows down right after the first of the year but this year it didn't slow down until March and it hasn't slowed down that much.

I'm selling a lot of first guns and a lot of those are either for concealed carry or ones where they want to be ready for the possibility of CCW later. A lot of those AR's are for first time buyers as well.

hga said...

What will you do if Obama says "Turn 'em all in."

I'm not too worried about this because who would listen to him?

Not my local police (your mileage will vary, of course).

The military he's made no connection with, doesn't understand, and who I'd hope wouldn't be willing to follow a clearly illegal order?

Then there's the question of how long would it take a Republican House to impeach him and a Republican Senate to convict him? There won't be a Republican party in very short order if they were to fail their duty.

Still, the thought exercise is useful; there's some good anecdotes about liberals at the height of Watergate being scared Nixon would e.g. order the 82nd Airborne to arrest the Congress. To which conservatives replied, "OK, remind me again why it's a good idea to ban civilian gun ownership?" (which was really getting going at the time).

Bikeboy said...

What's with all you gun nuts? The topic is zombies! ZOMBIES!

The CDC published Zombie Apocalypse guidelines last year. But I wouldn't count on the gummint - those big Bureaucrat brains will look pretty tasty to the zombies!

I recently bought a Dead On Annihilator destruction tool. Sure, guns and ammo are important, and I've got that... but the bullets will eventually be used up... THEN what do you do??!? I'm ready for 'em!!

(But seriously, I concur that people are concerned about our future. $15 trillion in debt and growing exponentially will do that. Hasn't ANYBODY in DC ever had to reconcile a checkbook? I'm hopeful but not extremely optimistic that the voters will deliver a wake-up call come November. Not optimistic because we're growing ever more entitlement-oriented. "Ask not what your country can do for you..." What a quaint notion!)

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that most of the people that were worried about what Obama would do bought guns in 2008-9. I think this is mostly fear of Mad Max.

Kirk Parker said...

Randy Townsend,

I have no doubt Obama wishes he could just say "Turn 'em all in", but even in the heights (depths?) of his narcissism I think he himself knows he doesn't actually have the authority to do that.

So although I have my answer ready (and it was ready long before anyone ever heard of President O) that's not on my radar at all. What is quite visible on it is sneaky underhanded attempts to damage gun rights--stuff like Fast and Furious, for example.