I need to finish up the Ozark travelogue soon, but first thought I would share another instance of political fantasy in real life, from a news article in our local Sunday paper. It seems that Barack Obama’s rise to power has coincided with a boom in weapons and ammunition sales (and applications to go packin’ in public) that continues to the present day. This has all developed, I might add, without the slightest hint or tell from the president or his official supporters that any kind of crackdown on gun owners is in the offing. I rather think Obama has his hands full enough leading the country through economic crises and major policy changes and a Supremes nomination without opening any new culture war fronts. Then again, you get the sense that some of the people mentioned in this story are expecting other kinds of wars entirely:
For whatever reason, guns and all things gun-related are a hot commodity these days.
Local law enforcement agencies are seeing an increase in the number of applications from residents wanting to carry concealable firearms, a continuation of a trend that started last year. At the same time, ammunition prices are up because of increased demand coinciding with more gun sales.
The Boone County Sheriff’s Department has received more than 250 new applications this year from residents wanting to carry concealable firearms after accepting 449 applications in all of 2008, sheriff’s Maj. Tom Reddin said. The sheriff’s department received only 116 applications in 2007, Reddin said.
“I think a part of it is crime,” he said. “I think a part of it is politics and the national administration. I think a part of it is the hysteria.”
Another Columbia firearms trainer, Tim Oliver, said demand for his beginning firearms course has increased since last summer. He offered two courses a month last year but has increased that to nine courses a month. “All of my classes have been booked to capacity since October,” he said, attributing the increase to both crime and fear of stricter gun control.
Ammunition also has become a precious commodity.
“A lot of people are kind of grabbing up and hoarding ammo,” said Barry McKenzie, manager of Target Masters firing range and gun store in north Columbia.
McKenzie said a lot of dealers have placed limits on how much ammunition customers can buy in an effort to decrease demand, but his store has not.
“People are afraid” of increased federal regulations, McKenzie said “There’s just a lot of rumors out there right now.”
And then there was this additional testimony from the news story’s online comments section:
I worked for a shooting and reloading company before and after the election. Believe me, the election has a lot to do with what is going on. The call volume increased to staggering proportions immediately after the elections. People were grabbing everything they could, and that still has not subsided. Now prices are incredibly high becasue every dealer is out of stock. I am one of the lucky ones who stockpiled before prices skyrocketed. I have enough guns and ammo to form a small militia. [Let's hope it's a well-regulated militia.--JLP]
This jibes with what I was told last fall by a student who was working at what I imagine is the same business. An outfit called Midway USA has a rather unmarked facility west of Columbia. From what I have seen, there are few better places to experience Middle American cyber-aggression in action than the comments section of newspaper guns n’ crime stories.