September 24, 2016

Get Some Guns and Ammo (and Fear)

Will President Obama really take your guns away?

by Jacob Hodgen

Van Wagenen gun shop in Orem, UtahWhile the residents of some states are flocking to Starbucks to pledge community service in preparation for Tuesday’s inauguration ceremony, Utahns are turning out in droves at a much different local hangout: gun stores.

The mood is cheery, yet hectic as I walk through the door of the Van Wagenen Finance Company in Orem, Utah. Smiling pictures of both George W. and Laura Bush greet me as I shuffle past busy customers while the Fox News Channel offers commentary from a television hanging on the wall. Above me, mounted elk heads peer down contemplatively on the rows of rifles below them, and a colorful promotional flyer for the NRA solicits my aid in the fight for what it assures me is a desperate struggle for my Second Amendment rights.

If quintessential Utah exists, surely this scene is as likely a candidate as any.

However, there is something odd that immediately catches my eye. It is a strange phenomenon that has only occurred a few times in Van Wagenen’s thirty-year history: one of the immense gun display racks is empty.

As one of largest gun sellers in the state, business has boomed in the last few months. In fact, Van Wagenen’s has sold out its entire stock of assault rifles and nearly all of its ammunition. This trend has echoed across Utah as gun dealers post record sales and continue to struggle to keep their shelves stocked. The owner of this establishment, Norman Van Wagenen, explains to me that the spike in demand for guns is not related to an increase in interest for shooting sports, but is direct result of a growing fear of President Obama.

The perceived threat of future restrictions and, possibly even more terrifying, the prospect of new taxes on weapons and ammunition has resulted in record-breaking demand for guns in Utah. Both gun sales and attendance at the latest Utah gun show have recently doubled.

Empty Rack for Guns

A few months ago this rack had a gun for every slot

Aside from fear, Norman thinks that many Utahns also view guns as a relatively liquid asset in times of financial instability. Though this strategy might not find its way into the national financial stimulus package, Norman bets that many enthusiasts are currently interested in buying a new gun or two so they can, “put it under their bed and love it.”

Guns and ammo are not the only things in high demand as a result of widespread fear. Applications for concealed weapons permits have recently quadrupled, and, if current trends continue, one in every twenty-five Utahns over the age of twenty-one could soon legally carry a concealed weapon.

Norman laughs as he tells me about a conversation he recently had with a representative from the Centurion corporation, which manufactures the AK-47 assault rifle, who claimed that they did not want any new orders, because they currently had enough “for sixty-seven years of production.”

The gun craze has seeped onto local airwaves as well. You may have already heard the latest aggressive radio campaign from “Get Some Guns and Ammo,” a major gun dealer in Murray, which seeks to capitalize on extant fear. The menacing ad encourages potential customers to stock up on weapons, “before some of the rights and privileges we have now are gone!”

Join the NRA. Fight the Man.

But is this is a legitimate threat? Should Utah residents really be worried about losing gun rights once Obama enters office on the 20th? The answer is. . . maybe, but it seems very unlikely.

In the past, Obama has earned the NRA’s ire for voting in favor of a ban on semi-automatic weapons and supporting legislation that would leave both weapon manufacturers and distributors open to potential lawsuits. However, Obama has also publicly claimed that he respects the right for Americans to have guns. He has said, “I will not take your rifle away. I won’t take your handgun away.” Instead, he favors what he calls “common sense” laws that control the sale of firearms. Exactly what this means has yet to be determined, but based on the heavy focus towards bipartisan, conciliatory politics Obama has already shown, it seems extremely unlikely that he will press for dramatic legislation regarding guns any time soon.

Not all Utahns are worried, though. One of the directors for the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah, Gary Sackett, thinks that gun store owners are merely fear mongering to boost sales: “They are trying to get people to panic or, if not panic, at least to think this is the last chance to buy these weapons.”

What does all this mean for you? If you are a gun enthusiast, then between the fear of legislation, lack of supply, and rising gun prices, you might have a lot to be nervous about. However, if you are already opposed to guns, then you probably have the most to fear, because there is currently a tidal wave of lead and iron washing over every corner of your town.

For further information regarding President Obama’s positions on gun control, see the following sites:

Fact Check
On the Issues

Photos by Jacob Hodgen