In 2013, President Obama tried to get a few ticky-tacky gun control laws through Congress. He never even got this through the Senate.
Now that effort has backfired, big time.
The American firearms industry is as healthy as ever, seeing an unprecedented surge that has sent production of guns soaring to more than 10.8 million manufactured in 2013 alone — double the total of just three years earlier.
The 2013 surge — the latest for which the government has figures — came in the first full year after the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, signaling that the push for stricter gun controls, strongly backed by President Obama, did little to chill the industry despite the passage of stricter laws in states such as New York, Maryland, Connecticut and California.
Indeed, interest in guns appears to be at an all-time high in California, which shattered its previous record for gun-purchase background checks last month, with nearly 200,000 processed, suggesting a vibrant firearms market in the country’s most populous state.
Industry backers say they aren’t surprised firearms buyers and manufacturers alike have responded to the national gun control debate by making and purchasing more.
“The surge in firearms sales in 2013 reflects both a long-term upward trend in shooting sports participation and [a] particular concern that year that law-abiding gun owners and those interested in purchasing a firearm for the first time could face tougher restrictions affecting access to and selection of firearms,” said Mike Bazinet, spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry group.
Little more than two years after the Sandy Hook shooting, which claimed the lives of 20 schoolchildren and six faculty at the school, the staying power of the industry is striking.
Despite Mr. Obama’s personal appeal for stricter laws, efforts to impose new background checks and to ban military-style rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines failed at the federal level in 2013. The Democratic-led Senate blocked those changes in a filibuster, and the GOP-controlled House never even took up any legislation.
Mr. Obama was left to move ahead on his own, signing more than two dozen executive orders and memos tweaking federal enforcement priorities, urging safe gun ownership and boosting the focus on mental health. He also nominated B. Todd Jones to be director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) — but two years later, Mr. Jones has quit the agency after a bungled effort to ban a popular type of rifle ammunition.
There is no way that a lame-duck President can reverse this trend. The trend is accelerating.
It reminds me of 2008, before he was elected.