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Gun production in US sets new record with 30 percent increase

Published time: February 21, 2014 19:37
AFP Photo / Justin Sullivan

AFP Photo / Justin Sullivan

Gun makers in the United States produced a record number of weapons in 2012, as new government data suggests Democratic presidents may actually be a boon to firearms manufacturers.

According to numbers released by US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, more than 8.5 million guns were produced in 2012, compared to about 6.5 million in 2011. That’s a 31 percent increase, and the highest number recorded since the agency began tracking gun production in 1986.

Interestingly, a 2013 study by the National Opinion Research Center found that gun ownership per household has actually declined to its lowest level in more than 30 years, so what accounts for the high sales? According to one gun advocate, it’s President Barack Obama.

“Barack Obama is the stimulus package for the firearms industry,” Dave Workman, senior editor of Gun Mag, a print and online publication of the 2nd Amendment Foundation, told Bloomberg News. “The greatest irony of the Obama administration is that the one industry that he may not have really liked to see healthy has become the healthiest industry in the United States.”

As noted by Bloomberg, more than 26 million were produced during Obama’s first term alone. Former President George W. Bush, a Republican, was in office for eight years before 28 million guns were manufactured.

Bill Clinton’s Democratic presidency, which saw the government mandate background checks for gun purchases, also boosted firearms makers, who produced 33 million firearms over eight years. During George H.W. Bush’s one term, 16 million guns were made.

Even gun control advocates find some truth to the idea that Democratic presidents help cause a surge in gun sales. According to Brian Malte of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, gun advocates have “demonized” Obama in order to sell more firearms to a smaller consumer base.

“We see the percentage of households owning guns declining,” he said to Bloomberg, “and that indicates that those who already own guns are buying more of them.”

Obama generally avoided the gun control debate during his first term, but he came out in favor of reforms after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that saw 20 children killed by a gunman.

Although Congress has failed to pass legislation on the federal level, some states have forged ahead with their own gun control initiatives. California, for example, recently signaled its intention to implement its “microstamping” gun law, which requires manufacturers to imprint gun data on bullet casings when they’re fired. This has caused some gun makers to pull various models from the market.

Regardless, the latest government data seems to dovetail with the financial results of gun makers like Smith & Wesson, which experienced record sales during its 2013 fiscal year. As RT reported last year, the manufacturer said its sales of $588 million were a 43 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.

Whether or not such high-level sales can continue remains to be seen, but background check data seems to suggest 2013 it’s possible. The FBI conducted more than 21 million background checks related to gun sales in 2013, a seven percent increase over 2012.