According to the early estimates, Black Friday shopping was down about 11 percent this year compared to last year, with much of the gap being filled by online retailers. However, there was one sector of the retail market that managed to defy expectations in 2014: gun sales. According to the federal background check system, more than 175,000 checks were performed on Friday. That can be compared to the 2013 average of 58,000 a day. It looks like quite a few Americans treated themselves to a firearm on one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
Manufacturers and retailers in the gun business extended Black Friday offers that included discounts, bundles, and doorbuster deals. Wal-Mart, for instance, offered customers 20 percent off all firearms for the entirety of Black Friday weekend. Sporting goods stores like Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops ran similar deals to entice gun buyers into their establishments.
The Rush to Arms
It’s probably a stretch to connect the gun boom with current events, but there are certainly enough connections to be made. Americans undoubtedly watched the Ferguson rioting with a wary eye last week, wondering what they would do if civil unrest spread to their town. Then there’s the stiff background check law coming to Washington state this week. Proponents of Initiative 594 have already promised to get similar wording onto the ballots of several more states by 2016. With so much uncertainty in the air, it’s not surprising that Americans would choose to buy now.
Of course, some of it is simply Americans practicing their constitutional rights. You don’t have to live in fear to want a gun in the house. The media likes to portray gun enthusiasts as crackpots who think the world is about to descend into anarchy, but that’s seldom the case. Putting aside the obvious pleasures of hunting, collecting, and target shooting, many individuals like to know they have protection if the worst were to happen. It doesn’t mean they are paranoid; bad things happen every day. Once it does, you can’t travel back in time to arm yourself. Sometimes being prepared means anticipating the improbable.
The fact that so many Americans went out to purchase guns this week gives me some hope for the future. Not because I’m desperate to see everyone own a gun, but because (most) gun owners see how ridiculous strict gun control laws really are. Once you own one, take care of it, and realize it’s not the devil incarnate, you no longer understand why Democrats want to take them away.