An early indicator of gun rights in a Trump administration

  • 21 November 2016
  • NormanL
An early indicator of gun rights in a Trump administration

Second Amendment supporters were rightfully worried that if Hillary Clinton won the presidency, her administration would do everything in its power to curtail gun rights. Now that she's been consigned to the dustbin of history, what does the future look like for gun owners? If post-election gun background checks are any indicator, they think the future looks bright, indeed:

Like most other retailers, gun sellers thrive during the holidays. Last year's Black Friday featured record activity for a single day, according background check data. 

December 2015 was the second busiest month ever, topped only by December 2012, when President Barack Obama threatened to rein in gun rights after a deranged man killed 26 people, including 20 children, in a shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Obama, a Democrat, never enacted any sweeping new gun restrictions because he faced opposition in a Republican-controlled Congress.

Now, with this year's Black Friday just days away, gun dealers say traffic is regaining momentum after the post-election drop.

"I'm not expecting it to be any slower than our normal Black Friday," said Kellie Weeks, owner of Georgia Gun Store in Gainesville, Georgia. "But if Hillary had won, we would have sold out already." 

After Obama was elected in 2008, November background checks jumped 48 percent compared to the prior November, according to background check data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation. By comparison, checks rose a more modest 5 percent in November 2004 after Republican George W. Bush was re-elected.

Such checks are the best proxy for data on gun sales, which gun manufacturers do not publicly release. The foundation strips the data of applications for conceal-carry permits - typically made by people who already own guns - to give a better reflection of actual purchases. 

Through October 2016, background checks are up 15 percent compared to the same amount of time last year, suggesting another a strong year of overall sales.

One thing to remember: it's vital to hold the Trump administration accountable for its promises on gun rights. There's every reason to believe Trump will be the gun rights advocate he said he was on the campaign trail. But as with everything in politics, it's like Ronald Reagan once said: "trust, but verify."