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2012 Campaign

Obama Gun Surge, Take 2


Semi-automatic weapons for sale are on display at Texas Gun, in San Antonio, Texas

Photograph by Gilles Mingasson/Getty Images

Semi-automatic weapons for sale are on display at Texas Gun, in San Antonio, Texas

We’ve chronicled for years how President Barack Obama helps sell guns. In 2009, people in the firearm business called it the Obama surge: Gun owners who feared the Democratic president would toughen restrictions on firearms ran out and bought more of them.

It turned out that expectations were wrong. Obama did nothing to stiffen gun control.

Experience notwithstanding, Obama’s reelection could spark a renewed gun-sales surge. At least that’s what investors seem to be signaling, according to Bloomberg News. This from an illuminating dispatch by Tim Catts:

Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. (SWHC) climbed the most in two months to lead a rally among firearms manufacturers as traders speculated that President Barack Obama’s reelection will spur gun sales. Investors are wagering that more Americans will buy guns after the win by Obama, who said last month he would consider reintroducing a ban on civilian purchases of military-style assault weapons.

The stock market news is consistent with the impressions of people I know in the gun industry. Richard Feldman, a longtime industry consultant and former National Rifle Association organizer, told me on Election Day that whether or not Obama pushes federal gun control, he will likely face a Republican move in Congress pointed in the opposite direction.

Specifically, the NRA will be back on Capitol Hill advocating a federal concealed-carry “reciprocity” law. The bill would allow citizens from gun-friendly states to tote their firearms into more restrictive states and municipalities. Obama would doubtless oppose such a federal intrusion on state authority (and it would raise ticklish questions for states-rights fans on the right). Whatever happened to the reciprocity bill, though, renewed debate would be good for gun sales.

Barrett, an assistant managing editor and senior writer at Bloomberg Businessweek, is author, most recently, of GLOCK: The Rise of America’s Gun.

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