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Worry About Gun Control or Celebrate a Successful Stimulus?

Anyone in the market for ammunition lately has come across shortages and often sticker shock when there is actually stock available.  From run-of-the-mill .22 caliber to the less common .30 carbine, I’ve found at our local shops here in Cheyenne a frenzied atmosphere that I suspect is similar to that of a bank run.  The internet is no better, as major retailers like Cabela’s are often sold out across the board.  Although national media has picked up on the growing number of back-orders for AR15-style and other “assault” rifles, and there is an equally heightened demand for high-capacity magazines, it’s ammunition that’s the most prominent sign of gun owners’ concern over gun control—that is, the concern that all gun rights are at risk. 

There’s certainly cause for some concern outside of Wyoming.  New York recently limited gun magazine capacity to seven rounds, allowing residents to keep their 10-round magazines (New York’s previous cap) but requiring them to only load up to seven rounds, under risk of misdemeanor charges for miscounting.  Our neighbor Colorado is almost certain to pass a ban on high-capacity magazines, setting a limit at 15 rounds.  Recent court cases aren’t very reassuring, either: the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals (whose jurisdiction covers Wyoming) recently ruled that the Second Amendment does not protect concealed carry of firearms, and upheld Colorado’s restrictive permitting laws.

None of this, however, directly affects Wyoming.  Although three pro-gun bills died in our 2013 Legislative Session, two of them being killed by Senate Majority Leader Phil Nicholas over what he described as inappropriate lobbying tactics, this is a far cry from new, oppressive gun laws.  Wyoming still allows open and concealed carry for qualified residents (either may be exercised without a permit), allows the private sale of firearms without background checks, and even has a Firearms Freedom Act on the books that theoretically allows the manufacture and sale of firearms in Wyoming without complying with the federal gun laws and regulation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.  In fact, despite the anger over the dead gun bills, the Legislature did pass new law allowing the use of firearm suppressors while hunting.  Even in the heated 2013 Session, gun rights still came out ahead in Wyoming.

The only real cause for concern lies in Washington, DC.  Even this, however, is overblown.  The President has largely left it to Senator Diane Feinstein of California, who has introduced a bill that would revive the Assault Weapons Ban of the 1990s with more restrictions.  Although the President called for tempered engagement on gun control and the White House rebuked the NRA for its rhetoric, since introducing the bill Feinstein has equated large magazine capacity to the legalized hunting of humans and has refused to consider exemptions for military veterans on the grounds that vets may suffer from PTSD.  If the proposed law is already such a poor show in the Democratically-controlled Senate, it is even less likely to pass the Republican-controlled House. 

Perhaps there’s something else at work here: instead of a ban, we may be witnessing the President’s first and only successful stimulus project to date.  President Obama’s election in 2008 spurred gun sales, as did his re-election in 2012, despite the barest rhetoric on guns up to that point.  Unlike bank bailouts, solar panel subsidies and the health care boondoggle, the President has managed to drive record demand for firearms and related products without expending serious taxpayer money or granting regulatory favors to his cronies.  Given that the gun industry’s attitude toward the President largely parallels that of gun owners, this stimulus is also bipartisan.

If this were really the case, the White House would probably take credit for it.  But like many issues, it’s likely that gun control is just another item on the President’s list that is entitled to obligatory lip service and little else.  While the President’s base may lament this, I—and, I suspect, most Wyomingites—should applaud it.  Either way, it’s unlikely that regressive gun control is coming to Wyoming anytime soon.

So, whoever you are, could you please stop hoarding all the ammo?  I need to top off my summer inventory.

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Thursday, 19 October 2017
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