Fearing a potential crackdown on their right to carry arms, they are buying up ammunition, handguns and other firearms as quickly as possible in advance of new government regulations or a United Nations agreement that might somehow infringe on the U.S. gun market.
The Daily Telegraph newspaper noted that the number of people applying to buy guns in the U.S. increased by 18.4 percent in October. The number of people applying to purchase guns rose by a similar figure when Obama defeated Arizona Senator John McCain to become the nation’s president in 2008. A total of 12.7 million background checks were processed in 2008 compared to 11.2 million in 2007 and that number continues to rise, the paper reported.
“I have purchased more since the election,” said Michael Hill, a 49-year-old gun owner from Watauga, Texas told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I hear a lot of buzz about … putting more restrictions in place.
“There’s a lot of paranoia out there,” he said. “But [Obama] has nothing to lose now because he won’t be re-elected again.”
Gun owners’ deep-rooted fears appear based in both racism and outright paranoia, as Obama did little in his first term to warrant such mistrust on the issue.
The president has long maintained his belief that the 2nd Amendment applies to individual citizens rather than the standing militias that were often the norm back when the nation’s founding fathers wrote the U.S. Constitution.
Additionally, he passed legislation during his first term that made it legal for gun owners with permits to carry their weapons into federally-owned national parks.
But gun enthusiasts point to comments the president made during an October presidential debate against Mitt Romney when he indicated an interest in seeing the assault weapons ban reintroduced. The assault weapons ban, which was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, expired in 2004.
The Associated Press reported at the time that studies conducted by pro- and anti-gun groups revealed conflicting results on whether the assault weapons ban was successful at stopping crime.
“My belief is that we have to enforce the laws we’ve already got, make sure that we’re keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, those who are mentally ill,” Obama said when asked about his administration’s plan to limit the availability of assault weapons. “We’ve done a much better job in terms of background checks, but we’ve got more to do when it comes to enforcement.
“But I also share your belief that weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don’t belong on our streets. And so what I’m trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced. But part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence. Because frankly, in my home town of Chicago, there’s an awful lot of violence and they’re not using AK-47s. They’re using cheap hand guns.”
As a result, gun and ammo sales remain on the rise, although sales can’t match the mad rush that cleared out many gun stores after Obama was elected in 2008.
Weapon and ammunition shortages could be on the horizon if gun lovers keep up this pace.
Gun control advocates say they don’t understand the rush to stock up on firearms, ammunition, magazines and more.
“I personally think it’s very silly,” Marsha McCartney, a spokeswoman for the Texas chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence told the Star-Telegram. “The president has not done anything in four years to make them think he’s coming to get their guns.”
Still, some worry that ongoing talks by the United Nations on an Arms Trade Treaty could lead to a reduction of overseas firearms being sold in the United States – and potentially even a ban on private ownership of firearms here.
Others worry that Obama, during his second term, will have time to name one or two more justices to the Supreme Court who might not embrace individual gun rights as much as some already on the court.