The results of the upcoming US presidential election will determine who Americans have decided to let run the country for the next four years. For firearm enthusiasts, it could mean the future of their livelihood.
That’s how it’s being viewed, at least, as Republicans ramp-up warnings that four more years of an Obama White House is comparable to an end of the Second Amendment. Fears of renewed, stricter legislation against guns under a second Obama administration has firearm sales soaring, and a victory for the incumbent on November 6 could have those figures shooting through the roof.
“Obama was the best gun salesmen we’ve had,” Irvin Walker, the owner of Triggers Gun Shop in Mills, Wyoming, tells the Star-Tribune. Walker says sales have only been on the rise the US President Barack Obama first threw his hat in the race for the White House back in 2007, and with another term being decided in only a few days, the proprietor says “That could very well happen again.”
Although President Obama hasn’t followed through with the Republican-driven fears that he’d wage a war on the right to bear arms, a victory on Election Day for the Democratic candidate would mean four more years of the incumbent, but not any longer. Federal law limits US presidents from serving more than two consecutive terms, which means President Obama won’t have anything to lose if he’s sworn in during January’s inauguration. Although he hasn’t introduced gun laws during the last three-and-a-half-years — and seems likely to not make any changes during the next four — a win on Election Day would mean a lame-duck term for the commander-in-chief where he’d be free to pass any legislation that would have lessened his chances of re-election the first time around.
Joe Arterburn, a spokesperson for hunting gear manufacturer Cabela’s, says he expects a surge in gun sales if Obama wins next week’s election. If GOP opponent Mitt Romney walks away victorious, he says he thinks his customers will continue to spend money on firearms and ammo, but not necessarily to the same degree.
"If Mitt Romney is elected and there's no perceived threat on the freedom to own guns, people might decide to spend disposable income on things like outerwear instead," Arterburn tells the Wall Street Journal.
Even after an onslaught of mass shootings in America during 2012, President Obama has failed to reveal any plans to limit gun sales during a second term, even announcing during a recent televised debate that he’d push for enforcement of the current laws — not new ones — as would Gov. Romney. Because his pre-presidential record in the US Senate suggests he might be even remotely willing to strip away gun rights, though, Republicans say next week’s vote could be one of historic circumstances.
“People are definitely scared of a president who has voted when he was a senator against guns,” Anthony Bouchard, director of the Wyoming Gun Owners Association in Cheyenne, adds to the Tribune. Re-election for the incumbent means a lame-duck session, he says, “and he can do the things he wants to do. That’s what we’re afraid of.”
Jim Barrett, an industry analyst at C.L. King & Associates Inc. in New York, tells the Associated Press that President Obama “is the best thing that ever happened to the firearm industry,” and that’s a fact that hasn’t changed during the last few years.
The president’s aides put up an argument, however, and note that Obama has done nothing to limit firearms so far in his terms. "President Obama's record makes clear that he supports and respects the Second Amendment and the tradition of gun ownership in this country, and we'll continue to fight back against any attempts to mislead voters," campaign spokesperson Adam Fetcher tells the Journal. For Americans that don’t dig deep to find the facts, though, statements like that could be easily skipped. Republicans are aware, and are using that to take advantage.
“Defend freedom, defeat Obama,” an ad purchased by the National Rifle Association that aired last month insists. To the AP, NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam says Obama’s actions — even indirectly — are enough for the organization to support Gov. Romney this year.
"Gun owners and hunters fear that a second Obama administration with no future political campaigns to worry about will try to destroy this great American freedom," Arulanandam said, echoing the advert’s message. He explains that even if the president has publically said he doesn’t want any changes, he has appointed two Supreme Court justices considered anti-gun by the NRA, and the botched fast-and-furious gun-walking fiasco could be used during the next administration as a platform to push for restrictions.
"There’s no political downfall if Obama enacts more stringent gun-control measures," Arulanandam adds to the Journal.
Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the NRA, has formally endorsed Gov. Romney, and during a campaign rally last month said, “If President Obama is re-elected, we’re going to see an anti-Second-Amendment, anti-freedom rampage in this country like we’ve never seen before.”
The Center for Responsive Politics out of Washington reports that the NRA and its affiliated political committees have spent $10.7 million on the presidential campaign as of late October, with most of it happening just during the last few weeks.
So far in 2012, the number of background checks for would-be gun buyers is up from 56 percent when compared with the weeks before the 2008 presidential election. In Wyoming, the number of concealed firearm permits has increased steadily since 2007, with the latest figures nearly double what they were five years earlier. Nationally, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives notes that the number of licensed gun dealers has only shot up — albeit slightly — since Obama took the oath of office. Even if it’s just a tiny surge, it’s an increase nonetheless, and it looks to continue that way in 2012 — a feat that hasn’t occurred since the early President Clinton administration in 1992.
Ruger, the fourth-largest firearms manufacturer in America, says its sales have increased by 86 percent since the beginning of the Obama administration.