11/16/16 - With Trump Win, Gun Sellers See Win — And Loss

By Staff,

It’s no secret that Donald Trump campaigned as a champion of gun rights, but a Trump administration poses both welcome relief and an immediate problem for the gun industry.

For Larry Cavener, who recently visited a new gun shop called Tactical Advantage in Overland Park, Kan., this election means he can breathe easier.

“This means that we’re not gonna be under siege for a few years, and it seems like it has been,” Cavener says.

But the Obama years have actually been awesome for the U.S. gun industry. It has roughly doubled in size, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry trade group.

Tactical Advantage is part of an Obama-era gun industry success story. Brad Bissey, behind the counter, says Obama’s executive order mandating background checks on more gun sales and proposals to limit military-style weapons have fueled gun sales.

“You’re causing people that wouldn’t normally buy a gun to buy two or three. The owner here, Craig, he had sold three rifles to one individual, just because of a possibility [of a Clinton presidency],” Bissey says.

The shop has only been open a month, and owner Craig Antovoni says customers have been spending big.

“They were a little nervous thinking about Hillary getting in the office, and there’s been a run on the guns and parts,” he says.

But Wednesday, those sales evaporated. That day, Antovoni says, traffic was “a little slow.”

Trump’s surprise victory didn’t just hurt store sales, it slammed gun company stocks. Two big manufacturers — Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger — saw their stocks plummet because the industry is losing a very potent and enduring moneymaker.

“The message is in fact that the government is going to come take your guns away,”says professor Don Haider-Markel at the University of Kansas. He says that message made hoarding guns seem like political defiance.

“I think the NRA and conservative media in general have pushed the idea that your rights are really under threat, and not only do you need to exercise those rights by owning guns, but you should own as many guns as you can afford,” he says.

At Centerfire Shooting Sports in Olathe, Kan., there’s a cheery Christmas tree, fresh cookies and coffee for customers. The business is 4 years old, another part of the Obama-era gun industry expansion.

“We’d only been open a month when Sandy Hook happened, and we didn’t know what to expect, and it was crazy,” says co-owner Jean Basore.

She thinks a Clinton victory would have produced another spike in sales. But, she says, Clinton’s likely gun control measures would have been bad for her industry long-term. Basore thinks the gun industry is turning a corner. About a quarter of her customers are new to guns and many are women.

“So I don’t think a fear-driven, momentary surge in gun sales is what the industry needs as a whole,” she says. “For all businesses, I’m a small business owner, so I want a strong economy, so people have that income to spend.”

Oklahoma Allows Conceal and Carry in Schools

Many schools in the state are “far out in the country and it would take a long time for law enforcement to get there. We know what happens when they don’t. Children die,” Tinney said.

A majority of the members of POE, a non-union, nonpartisan school personnel association, want teachers and administrators armed, Tinney said.

More than 30 percent of the teachers in the state belong to POE.

Tinney said that local school boards know whether teachers and administrators should be armed, adding that certain criteria should be met before arming a teacher. “The only ones who could call the shots are your local school board. Local control is paramount,” she said.

“For our members, it’s the last line of defense,” Tinney said. “Ultimately, they want to protect their students.”

A survey of POE members after the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut showed that 56 percent of teachers saying that educators should be armed if they have a concealed carry permit. The poll also showed 48.4 percent saying that they should be armed if they have passed psychological and other training.

An even higher number of teachers said administrators should be armed. In addition, 74.7 percent of school personnel said yes when asked whether schools should have armed officers on duty during school hours.

Wilson Public Schools’ decision comes after Gov. Mary Fallin (R.) signed House Bill 2014 into law in May, allowing the arming of certain school personnel and authorizing boards of education to allow participation in training.