Firearm Sales Slump Because the NRA Is Too Good At Stopping Legislation

Gun sales are down. But that doesn't mean that gun control advocates have won. 

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Assault rifle sales in the United States are dropping, Bloomberg reported.

According to the news outlet, requests for criminal background checks, which is a leading indicator of gun purchases, dropped 3.8 percent between 2013 and 2014. Meanwhile sales from the popular gun maker Smith & Wesson fell 23 percent last quarter, while other manufacturers like Sturm, Ruger & Co. saw similar drop offs.

So what's for the sudden decline in gun sales? Have guns become less popular?

Ironically, the decline is likely a sign that gun legislation is dead in Congress, or at least, the fear of it is.

Jim Hornsby, the owner of a gun store outside Atlanta told Bloomberg that people are no longer as worried that the federal government is coming after their firearms. Even when a 9-year-old has an Uzi.

"Assault-rifle sales stopped in their tracks,” Hornsby said. "There’s not an immediate fear the government’s going to take them away."

The original spike in gun sales began shortly after President Obama was elected amid fears that the new administration would try to institute new gun restrictions. In 2009, during the heart of the recession, American gun sales continued to soar as many citizens remained worried about the election of a new Democratic President.

"Everybody's a little nervous about Obama and everything that's going on with him and the legislation that John Kerry and the likes of him are trying to push through," 25-year-old Christopher Urban explained to NPR at a Virginia gun show in 2009.

Sales continued to spike amid similar fears after the Sandy Hook school shooting. National Rifle Association Vice President Wayne LaPierre warned that the passage a background check bill would lead to the eventual confiscation America's guns.

"This so-called universal background check… is aimed at one thing: It's aimed at registering your guns," LaPierre told supporters at the 2013 Western Hunting and Conservation Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah. "And when another tragic opportunity presents itself, that registry will be used to confiscate your guns," he said.

Today, with gun legislation far from the front — or even any — burner in Congress, firearm enthusiasts are no longer rushing out to hoard assault rifles. And while that may be good news for the N.R.A., it's bad news for gun store owners.

Andrea James, an analyst for Dougherty & Co. summed it up in the following way: "The best thing for firearms demand is to have the constant threat of legislation without ever actually having the legislation."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.