“Good, bad, I’m the guy with the gun.” -Army of Darkness
As of August 1st 2012, there were 129,817 federally licensed firearms dealers in the U.S., beating out grocery stores (36,569) and McDonald’s restaurants (14,098).
Of course if you’re just shopping for ammunition, there are a plethora of online retailers that might meet your needs; however, don’t expect speedy delivery. With demand high, companies such as www.targetsportsusa.com advise on their site:
Due to a very high volume of incoming orders please know that it will take up to 20-22 days before we process your order and 2-3 weeks before you receive your order.
The People’s Army
In 1959, Gallup reported that 49% of Americans said they had a gun in their home. In 2000, that figure had dropped to 39% (41% reported gun possession on their ‘property,’ however defined). In 2011, Gallup’s number had jumped to 47%. Subsequent analysis indicated that while gun ownership distribution was at 47%, the figure was misleading in that many gun owners possessed more than one firearm (and in many cases, a lot more). The National Institute of Justice reports that in 2009, Americans collectively owned 310 million firearms. Globally, in 2007, Americans were ranked first in gun ownership per capita at 88.8%, followed by Serbia (58.2%), and Yemen (54.2%).
As of and excluding the big sales month of December, ABC reported that 2012 U.S. sales of guns beat last years record by 350,000; the FBI recording instant background checks of 16,808,538.
In 2010, the top U.S. firearms manufacturers were:
Ruger 903,968 Units
Smith and Wesson 681,834
The ATF Firearms Manufacturing and Export Report reported that 5,391,311 units were manufactured in 2010. Although impressive, this number was slightly down from 2009, driven by a buying frenzy that many attribute to President Obama’s taking office, his possible position on gun control, and perhaps- a reaction to the fear mongering primarily generated by the Tea Party, the fringe right, and Fox News.
The Geneva-based research group, Small Arms Survey estimated in August of 2011 that the U.S. dominated global market for ‘authorized international transfers’ of small and light weaponry, ammunition, parts, and accessories had ballooned from $4 billion in 2006 to 8.5 billion. The size of the U.S. gun industry vary, but IBIS World estimated in a 2012 Fiscal Times article that it generates approximately 12 billion in sales annually. The National Shooting Sports Association reports that in 2011, the American firearms industry employed 98,000+ people, up 31% from 2008.
And if one truly believes that the horrific events of last year might have had negative effect on the industry, ugh… nope. At this point, it is a foregone conclusion that regarding income and investment, firearms will continue to be ‘the way to go’ - at least in the short term.
The 2013 projection of economic impact on the U.S. economy now stands at $31.8 billion, including suppliers, taxes, and related secondary industries.
An article from Wall St. Cheat Sheet reported in April 2012 that fourth-placed, U.S. firearms maker Sturm Ruger had surged 360% over the last three years; to the point that the company suspended acceptance of new orders. Meanwhile, Smith and Wesson had surged 80% year to date.
From a December 2012 New York Times Dealbook article by Andrew Sorkin:
It is often overlooked, but some of the biggest gun makers in the nation are owned by private equity funds run by Wall Street titans. The .223 Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle that was used on Friday by Adam Lanza to massacre 20 schoolchildren was manufactured by the Freedom Group, a gun behemoth controlled by Cerberus Capital Management, named after the three-headed dog of Greek myth that guarded the gates of Hades. Its founder, Stephen A. Feinberg, hunts regularly on the weekends with a Remington Model 700.Bill de Blasio, New York City Public Advocate, provides us with a list of the largest twelve corporate investors in the gun industry that, “… continue to sell military-grade weapons and ammunitions to civilians.” – Among this list that he refers to as the Dirty Dozen:
Besides Cerberus, Colt Defense, a spinoff from the manufacturer of the .44-40 Colt revolver made famous by John Wayne, is jointly owned by Sciens Capital Management, a fund advised by the Blackstone Group and another fund run by Credit Suisse.
Cerberus: $706-957 million
State Street Corp. 140.0
Renaissance Techn. 79.5
Courtesy of Joe Nocera at NYT:
Cerberus Institutional Partners Series IV is the fund that took over Chrysler in 2007. It bought General Motors’ financing arm, now called Ally Financial. It gobbled up hospitals, purchased bus companies, and even bought the raunchy magazine Maxim.Mr. Nocera also provided a partial list of institutional investors that have remained quiet regarding their investment in Cerberus’ Series IV fund:
It is also the fund that bought Bushmaster Firearms… It bought Remington Arms… a handful of other firearms companies, which it then merged into a new parent company, Freedom Group. At which point, Cerberus was the largest manufacturer of guns and ammunition in the country.
State of Wisconsin Investment Board $100 million
University of Texas Endowment 75
Regents, University of California 40
Pa. Public School Retirement System 400
TIAA-CREF, the financial services giant 147+
Also listed was the University of Missouri endowment, the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension system, the Indiana Public Retirement System, and others.
And then there’s The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or CalSTRS:
… now demanding that Cerberus sell Freedom Group, but even if it’s successful, the pension fund likely will still be in the gun business. (Sacramento’s News Review)
According to his report, when Mr. Nocera queried many of the trust funds’ management, he was met with a number of excuses and rationalizations for continued investment in Freedom Group. Then there was Bruce Zimmerman, a spokesman for the University of Texas Investment Management Company:
We have no plans to divest… We invest strictly on economic considerations, and we do not take into account social and political consideration.
Blood Politics: D.C. Firearms LTD
In a recent USA Today article:
NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said the NRA’s “successes are due to the fact that the overwhelming majority of the American people agree with our position, not because of any influence.”… Ugh… okay. Then that might explain the insertion of a measure hidden in a 2009 credit-card regulation bill that allowed for the carrying of concealed weapons in our national parks (Tom Coburn). Or the reversal of now allowing weapons on Amtrak trains. Or the 2005 law that protects gun dealers, associations, and manufacturers from crime-based liability lawsuits involving guns. And perhaps the worst of all:
Laws restricting doctors and insurance companies from asking patients questions about guns (to the extent of putting doctors’ licenses in jeopardy).
Since 2009, gun right organizations (including the NRA) have spent approximately $20 million on lobbing and political contributions (gun control groups: $832,000 over the same period).
Note: When compared to Big Pharma and Big Finance, such expenditures might surely seem as ‘chump-change.’ Yet, inside the beltway, there is no such thing as ‘chump-change;’ and the hard-to-monitor, massive spending of guns rights organizations at the state and local levels must not be discounted.
Between 2001 and 2010, the NRA federal-level lobby spent between 1.5 million and 2.7 million. During the 2010 election cycle, NRA ‘independent’ expenditures reached $7.2 million+. As of 2012, fifteen of NRA’s lobbyists previously had government jobs.
And from Open Secret’s 2012 organizational profile of the NRA’s of lobbying activities:
… influence is felt not only through campaign contributions, but through millions of dollars in off-the-books spending on issue ads and the like.Top 10 Recipients:
OUTSIDE SPENDING= $19,289,000 (profiled organizations who have made independent expenditures or electioneering communications in the current election cycle).
Total contributions to PACs, parties and outside spending groups: $332,114
Total contributions to candidates: $1,013,187.
Tommy Thompson $12,950
Rick Berg 12,400
Steven King 11,300
George Allen 10,400
Ted Cruz 10,150
John Barrow 9,900
Dan Benishek 9,900
Francisco Canseco 9,900
Eric Cantor 9,900
Dean Heller 9,900
In a January article on Bloomberg, it was reported that nine states provided $49 million in various subsidies to gun and manufacturer makers over the last five years. Ammunition giant Olin Corporation and the Freedom Group of Cerberus received approximately 85% of the grants and tax incentives.
The article further reports:
Governments in Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire and New York approved the subsidies to lure jobs from other states or to keep companies from moving, according to public records. The incentives were aimed at protecting or attracting more than 2,800 jobs, and for companies to train 500 workers. Lawmakers said they hoped more jobs would follow.In Mississippi alone, state and local governments gave Olin $31 million in subsidies in 2011, relocating 1,000 ammunition-manufacturing jobs from Michigan.
Another recent article specifically addresses the makers of assault rifles. Posted on the pinetreewatchdog site, it was reported that $19,000,000 in tax breaks since 2003. The states granting subsidies: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Oklahoma.
Three of the states covered in the article:
Kentucky: $6,100,000, since 1998 (Smith and Wesson)
Massachusetts $6,000,000, 2010 (Smith & Wesson)
New York: $5,500,000, since 2007 (Freedom Group)
Disregarding moral compass or social welfare, the granting of these incentives at the state and local levels was/is motivated by the objective of preserving or procuring jobs and industry for each state.
A revealing article by Nancy Watzman for the Sunlight Foundation shows the pervasiveness of gun rights organizations. The majority of the eighteen senators serving on the Judiciary Committee:
… have either enjoyed the support of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other gun rights groups come election time or suffered their opposition…______
Several members who won tough races last year got donations in the six-figure range from gun rights backers: Sunlight's Influence Explorer shows that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, got financial support from members of Safari Club International and the Gun Owners of America. The NRA spent more than $57,000 trying to get its members out to vote for him. Sen. Orrin Hatch, a veteran Utah Republican who has chaired the Judiciary Committee and faced perhaps the toughest reelection campaign of his career last year, benefitted from more than $97,000 in independent expenditures by the NRA.
With the horrific events of 2012, there have been a plethora of articles posted on many sites by authors that express themselves better than me.
With the horrific events of 2012, like many, I have read, studied, and analyzed the ongoing gun debate. And as a former ‘business person,’ I have tried to follow one creed:
Disregarding moral responsibility, with the objectives of profit or power- what would I do?
And whether it be a shoeshine S-corp in Baltimore, or a global pharmaceutical conglomerate based in New York, we have to confront the truth that money is king, that power is paramount. It is only by this understanding that we might recognize the weaknesses of those that ‘go against’ our common good.
And so goes that obsession so deeply embedded in our social condition: Guns.
(note, pls excuse errors: article hastily put together for Kos post, deadline for another publication)