President Obama grimly recounted the routine following every mass shooting that happens, with increasing frequency, in the US: "The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it. We've become numb to this. ...And what's become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation. Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out: We need more guns, they'll argue. Fewer gun safety laws. ...And, of course, what's also routine is that somebody, somewhere will comment and say, Obama politicized this issue."
This is another part of that routine: In days following the shooting, there is routine paranoia that President Obama, or "Democrats," or "liberals," or "the government," is going to "take away our guns," and then there is the routine uptick in the purchase of guns and ammo—and the routine accompanying surge in stock prices for gun makers.
Renewed calls for tougher gun control laws sent gun stocks surging on Monday as investors expected an increase in gun sales. By Monday afternoon, the value of Smith & Wesson's shares went up by 7.5% and Sturm, Ruger & Co increased by 3%.People who make guns are making a handsome profit from the fear generated by even the mere suggestion of tighter gun regulation, which only happens in the wake of yet another man using a gun to kill people. Gun makers have become murder profiteers.
...Monday's rally in gun stocks came hours after Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and the Democratic candidate for the president, unveiled a plan calling for tougher background checks at gun shows and online than those currently in place.
...In the years since Obama took office, gun makers have had some of their most profitable years. Last year, Smith & Wesson sales hit a record high of $626m, up 6.7% from $587.5m in 2013. Sturm, Ruger sales reached their record high in 2013.
Today, the New York Times' Charles M. Blow writes about the fear driving the purchases that drive up profits for gun and ammo manufacturers:
And as I have mentioned before, my oldest brother is a gun collector. He is a regular at the gun shows, buying and selling, but even he talks about a sense of unease at those shows as people engage in what can only be described as panic buying and ammunition hoarding.Panicked gun-buying is the action of very privileged people who have never been obliged to sit with fear.
These people are afraid. They are afraid of a time conservative media and the gun industry has convinced them is coming when sales of weapons, particularly some types of weapons, will be restricted or forbidden. They are afraid of growing populations of people they don't trust. Some are even afraid that a time will come when they will have to defend themselves against the government itself.
Unfortunately this fear is winning, as many Americans think crime is up, even though it's down. This fear is winning as massacres, and the gun violence discussions that follow, don't lead to fewer gun sales, but more.
If they'd lived a different kind of life, maybe they'd understand that the solution to real violence, to genuine existential threats, is not the capacity to commit more violence, but an urgency to diminish the things underwriting violence in the first place. Fear, hatred, need. Things to which guns are not an answer, and never will be.
The solution to gun violence is never going to be more gun violence. Why are any of us even pretending that it ever could be?