I grew up a country kid and I spent a lot of time outside, running up and down the ridges of north Missouri with a gun in my hand, and I will never forget the excitement I felt on Christmas morning 1972. That was the day I became a gun owner. The long, narrow package under the tree we had selected and cut down on our own land with my name on it was a .22 rifle, and the smaller one beside it was a cleaning kit. I had known since late September what my “big gift” would be that year — that was when I had taken and passed the hunters safety course that was taught to every fourth grade class in that tiny, rural K-12 school — but the excitement was still overwhelming. I had earned the trust of my parents and our large extended family of hunters. The excitement was, to say the least, tempered with gravity, even for a ten-year-old.
Nor was I alone in my peer group. In a fourth-grade class of 17 kids, 11 of us had gotten the same Remington .22 that had been procured through the hardware store on the town square. Getting a .22 for Christmas when we were ten was a right-of-passage for all children who lived in the country, and even a few townies, where I grew up.
But that was then.
This is now.
When I was growing up, I don’t remember an atmosphere of fear and paranoia permeating every aspect of life, and I certainly didn’t know anyone who stockpiled weapons. Guns were tools, not objects of reverence like they are now.
Along with millions of Kindles, Angry Birds and gift cards, Santa left a record number of guns under Americans’ Christmas trees, especially in Kentucky, according to FBI statistics on background checks.
In the six days before Christmas, gun dealers submitted nearly half-a-million names for checks on criminal records and mental health issues, with 20% coming Dec. 23, according to news reports. That was the second-busiest gun-buying day in history, topped only by firearm purchases on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, The London Telegraph says.
It’s important to remember that there is no direct correllation between the number of background checks done and the number of guns sold because of a plethora of state reporting protocols related to gun purchases, but it is also important to remember that many of those who had pre-purchase background checks done bought multiple weapons, and the exact number of sales are neither reported nor recorded.
But it still begs the question: WHY are guns selling like hotcakes?
The National Rifle Association told the Telegraph that in the face of police budget cuts and layoffs, Americans were concerned about self-defense. The NRA told CBS News that sport shooting is more popular.
Gun dealers cite fear of crime tied to a bad economy, expanded concealed-carry laws or the fear that the federal government will either restrict ownership or confiscate firearms.
“There are a lot of people concerned about pending gun legislation and the sense about the current administration. People think future availability will be limited, and there’s a feeling of get it while you can,” Dave LaRue of Legendary Guns in Phoenix told the Telegraph, noting that sales were up 25% from last Christmas.
“Get it while you can?” Seriously?
There has been no effort at passing any gun control legislation during the Obama presidency. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
Oh, right. I forgot…that in and of itself is the proof that Obama is trying to take their guns.
He’s wily like that.
I’m going to give Lawrence O’Donnell The Last Word because he summed it up perfectly in Monday’s rewrite segment:
[This post is written as part of the Media Matters Gun Facts fellowship. The purpose of the fellowship is to further Media Matters’ mission to comprehensively monitor, analyze, and correct conservative misinformation in the U.S. media Some of the worst misinformation occurs around the issue of guns, gun violence, and extremism. The fellowship program is designed to fight this misinformation with facts.]