The recent shortage seems to have developed more rapidly than at other times. One reason might be the current political climate in which views on numerous issues are pushing both sides further apart. This leads to a mistrust of government at all levels, especially among gunowners who have long been suspicious of politicians who talk from both sides of their mouths when it comes to the Second Amendment.
Another reason for the run on AR-type firearms could very well be because of social media. In today’s world, word spreads quickly when it comes to availability of products of all kinds. Where the guns are and where they aren’t, is there at your fingertips.
There is the mainstream media, and during 2012, steady coverage of several multiple-victim shootings kept “assault rifles” and high-capacity handguns in the headlines. Seven people were killed at a nursing home in Oakland, Calif., five in a coffee shop in Seattle, six in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and six in an office in Minneapolis, Minn. (All of these shootings were with handguns, incidentally.)
The Perfect Panic-Buying Storm
When 12 people were killed and 28 wounded in a Colorado movie theater by a deranged man using an AR-style rifle, demands for tougher restrictions on similar models were all over the news and the Internet. Retail prices escalated rapidly and more than 100 AR manufacturers had to increase production in order to meet the demand.
Then in December, the tragic massacre of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., shocked the nation. Many political leaders and pundits blamed the guns and not the shooter, who had a history of mental problems.
New restrictions pertaining to tactical-style and high-capacity firearms were quickly passed in several states, and familiar gun-control advocates like California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein renewed their efforts to get legislation passed at the federal level, including outright bans of some models. This occurred in spite of the fact that many law enforcement experts, and even some political leaders on the anti-gun side admitted that the laws being passed would not have prevented the Newtown shootings.
Soon after Newtown, AR-type rifles and ammunition were nowhere to be found. The law of supply and demand became evident by conditions that neither the retailers nor the gun manufacturers could control.
The Blame Game
Many gun owners saw the supply evaporate and looked for someone to blame. Conspiracies quickly developed and the finger pointing blamed everyone including the neighborhood gun store, the big-box retailer, the manufacturers and anti-gun politicians. As is often the case, the conspiracy theories were wrong.
One rumor was that leftist billionaire George Soros was investing in gun companies so he could eventually shut them down. Another was that the anti-gun Obama administration was buying millions of military-style firearms, just to keep them out of the public’s hands.
Even though none of the rumors were true, they served to fan the fires of panic buying so that when rifles would occasionally trickle in to a retail store, buyers were willing to pay any price to get as many as they could.
So who’s to blame for the great AR shortage scare? Mostly, it was a result of panic buying by your friends.
It was certainly not a good idea to cash in your 401K or IRA to speculate on the AR shortage, but it probably happened. Soon, as happens with many hoarding or panic-buying situations, everyone who wanted an AR had bought one or more.
Sales have leveled out across most of the country, and while ARs are still driving a huge chunk of our nation’s gun sales, the guns are once again on store shelves and prices have become more in line with what they were before the panic buying began.
In fact, many standard ARs are selling at great prices, while high-end models continue to hold their prices. If you’re in the market for an AR, 2014 may just be your year.
This article appeared in the January 27, 2014 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.
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