Is Obama really the best gun salesman in America?

Are these numbers all correct?

No, the salesmen are the ones going “Obama’s going to take all the guns away; get yours now, NOW, NOW!!

Ah, breaking news from early 2012, I see.

We’re well into his second term, and he still hasn’t gotten around to taking away the guns yet, but I can understand how people in 2012 would have believed that. After all, Obama spent the entirety of his previous term…not taking away their guns, or in any way implying that he would.

Yeah, wait until he promises you can keep them. Period. Then you can panic.

My current favorite is the people going on about the last lead smelter in the US (located in Herculaneum MO) closing recently due to not being able to meet the newest EPA guidelines. They say that it’s the Obama administration forcing this to happen as part of attempted gun control, but fail to notice that the rules went in effect in 2008, before he was even elected.

Well a lot of 2nd Amendment advocates expected he would try, and he did try. At least regarding the banning of “assault weapons” and those seem to be the guns everybody is buying. Or am I wrong?

If I recall correctly he said he wouldn’t when he was running, but a lot of 2nd Amendment advocates didn’t believe him. And it turns out they were right not to believe him.

But anyway, that’s all besides the point of my question. Are all those numbers cited about increased gun sales since Obama was elected correct?

Funny, I never saw that commercial on TV. I just remember all that talk of stricter gun control on the news and the reaction being a lot more gun sales. Millions and millions more it seems.

Relax, he’s not going to make any such moves until the President for Life Amendment is passed and ratified.

Are the statistics correct? I can’t say. But they are rather selective, and not presented in a way calculated to be helpful.

For example, we’re told that “Ruger’s quarterly firearm sales” have risen 98% since the third quarter of 2008. We’re not told what the comparator quarter is, but let that pass. We are also not told to what extent this is due to (a) a general rise in the price of weaponry, or (b) a shift in purchasing pattern from cheaper to more expensive weapons, or © a rise in retail sales generally since 2008 as opposed to (d) people buying more guns. We’re also not told to what extent it’s due to Ruger’s having increased its market share, with increased sales at Ruger’s being offset by reduced sales elsewhere. In fact, we’re not told why we’re being given figures just for Ruger’s, as opposed to figures for the market at large.

Similarly with the second statistic; increase in annual sales of Winchester ammunition since 2007. If the first statistic is given on a quarterly basis, why is the second given on an annual basis? If the first takes 2008 as a comparator, why does the second take 2007? Why just Winchester ammunition? Why is the information given in dollar terms, which could partly be accounted for by price changes or shifts in preference from cheaper to more expensive products, instead of numbers of rounds sold?

And you could go on in this vein. Each of the statistics seems to be almost deliberately given in an inconsistent way, in a partial way, in a way which wraps up several effects at once, and in a way which makes comparison or correlation with the other statistics very difficult. The kindest thing you can say about this collection of statistics is that it’s been put together in a very sloppy way which makes it difficult to draw any real conclusion about what, if anything, we can conclude from it. Less kindly, we can suspect that whoever assembled this did so in a way that makes it difficult to analyse the statistics because he knows or fears that, correctly analysed, the statistics will not support the claim he is making. And perhaps we can also say that whoever assembled these statistics seems to have been reasonably confident that the audience to whom he was presenting them wasn’t going to want to subject them to any serious analysis, or be at all troubled by its inability to do so.

So, having said all that, are they correct? It probably doesn’t matter greatly whether they are or not. My guess is that they are. If you are willing to cherry-pick statistics which can be made to look as if they support a claim that you and your audience want to believe is true, it’s quite easy to cherry-pick authentic statistics, so why would you take the risk of making them up? For example, with the Ruger’s statistic, if you can pick among all the manufacturers the one who can produce a figure that best supports your thesis and nobody is going to ask awkward questions like why you picked that particular manufacturer, then you won’t need to make up a figure. So my guess is that, as far as they go, these figures are likely to be correct.

Nor has he made gay marriages mandatory, legalized marijuana, or imposed Sharia law. I have to say that Obama has been a real disappointment to the left wing radicals who elected him.

I don’t think he is going to try anything again. He already tried and failed. I’m just wondering how many extra guns there are in America because he was elected and pushed for stricter gun laws. Like 60-70 million maybe?

I imagine the same thing happens with heroin sales if there’s a perceived crackdown on it. Junkies panic even at the mere threat of not getting their fix.

You mean, your statistics don’t tell you that?

I wonder why not?

Yeah, they sounded right to me too. How about these numbers?

Also what percentage of the new guns sold do you think have been “assault weapons”? Maybe 75%, higher?

Yeah, seems only the NRA was right.

The internet tells me this.

I just wanted to know if it were true or not. What say you?

I think it has something to do with privacy. Your thoughts?

My thoughts are that your belief is an extraordinary one. Total figures for numbers of weapons sold or licensed in the US are withheld from the public on the grounds of privacy? Whose privacy, exactly?

I say it’s not true.

The article you link to claims that “according to data compiled by the FBI, the number of Americans purchasing guns has skyrocketed since Obama was elected”. But the embedded hotlink doesn’t in fact lead to the data.

“I wonder why?” I hear you cry. Well, wonder no more; through the magic of Google you can find the FBI data yourself; here is the year-to-date data for 2013:

And what do we find at the bottom? We find this statement: “These statistics represent the number of firearm background checks initiated through the NICS. They do not represent the number of firearms sold . . .”

In other words, your source is misrepresenting his data. He claims the FBI figures show firearms sales; the FBI says flatly that they do not. Naturally, he’s not going to link you to the FBI data.

Your chosen source is pretty frank about its agenda (“The right news. Right now . . . relies on individuals like you to help us report the news the liberal media distort and ignore.”) This is news for people who already know what they think, and only want to be presented with material which confirms that, so you probably should read everything it offers you with a fairly jaundiced eye.

How so?

Privacy of those buying the guns I would guess. If all sales were counted that might be like universal registration which gun owners generally do not like. So what’s your alternative theory?

Yes. These people are awesome at their jobs. They’re completely dishonest and kind of irresponsible, but they’re really awesome at freaking people out and getting them to buy more guns and ammo. Obama was entirely hands-off on this issue before Sandy Hook, and that didn’t hurt gun sales at all. By the way, it’s very likely that in the future we’ll have this discussion again with the name of a different Democrat subbed in for Obama.