Home > Economics, Political > The Business of Guns

The Business of Guns

I was asked to post this here, and get some comments about it from the throngs of (3-4) readers here.

Business of Guns

I thought it was a very fair piece, with some good information. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Another link, in case the picture itself doesn’t work:


  1. September 14, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Hmmm, didn’t realize there were that many FFL holders.

    • September 15, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      Wouldn’t a lot of these FFL holders be people that are selling just a few, or one, gun over state lines?

      Not all would be all out gun dealers, I would imagine.

      • September 15, 2013 at 5:26 pm

        “Wouldn’t a lot of these FFL holders be people that are selling just a few, or one, gun over state lines?”

        I have read somewhere that the BATFE claims that a very tiny minority of FFL dealers may be responsible for a significant number of guns sold illegally, the guns that end up in the hands of gang bangers and criminals. It would seem to me if that was the case they ought to be pursuing strategies to identify and catch those dealers.

        We have put people undercover to get at drug dealers. Maybe that money might just as well spent putting agents undercover to try to buy guns illegally from licensed dealers.

        From what I have read over many, many years is that the BATFE has largely focused on harassing gun dealers, even to the point that laws were passed to limit how often they could audit dealers.

        The accusation was that the BATFE instead of going after really dangerous criminals was focusing largely on accounting errors and bookkeeping mistakes and more often than not going after “safe” targets that couldn’t easily fight back.

        There are also recurring rumors of corruption and incompetence by the BATFE. It has been said that many other Federal agencies will not accept transfers from BATFE agents because of perceived low quality of the agents.

        I don’t know for sure how true all the above is, but there have been a lot of complaints over the years of the BATFE acting like Nazi stormtroopers. People have seriously proposed shutting down the BATFE and replacing it with another agency or shifting its responsibilities to the FBI or some other agency.

        Straw purchasers are another possibility in the mix. That would be people who buy guns with the intent to re-sell them to other people. One of the questions on the 4473 form that you must fill out and sign to buy from an FFL specifically requires that you say you are buying the gun for your own use. Straw purchases approved by Federal agents was a large component of the “Fast And Furious” scandal.

        I have read numerous accounts that prosecution for deliberately lying on the 4473 form are way down now. Vice President Biden said the other day they didn’t have time when asked directly why. Some people wondered then why new laws if don’t have time to enforce the old ones?

        Stolen firearms account for a large number of firearms that get into criminal hands too. Finally there is a large reservoir of firearms already out there in civilian possession.

        One thing is for certain. Criminals are getting guns and the vast majority are handguns. As far as I can tell most proposals to solve this problem largely focus on removing guns from the hands of law abiding citizens. This is the mantra that the NRA has preached for along time and I think they are largely correct.

        I personally think that we could fight back a little with some form of universal background checks. I wrote a post on that here:

        Universal Background Checks

        The difference between my proposal and many others is that I think many gun owners would support it. In many respects it would make it easier for law abiding citizens to buy firearms while at the same time giving private individuals a powerful tool to identify that a person they may sell to is also law abiding.

        A huge issue that makes solving the problem of illegal guns is simply the enormous distrust that many gun owners now have towards the Federal government. This is largely a concern that gun-banners refuse to take into account and it is why many of them are totally baffled when they see what they think are reasonable proposals fail.

        “Not all would be all out gun dealers, I would imagine.”

        Not entirely sure what you mean? Basically you either have an FFL license or you don’t. If you don’t then you can sell your personal firearms but if it looks like you are skirting the law in being a non-licensed commercial dealer then you are seriously risking jail time, and trust me, BATFE agents haunt gun shows like fleas on a hound. 🙂



      • September 15, 2013 at 5:58 pm

        “Not all would be all out gun dealers, I would imagine.”

        Not entirely sure what you mean?

        I mean a person whose sole and primary purpose in employment is not buying and selling guns. Somebody that does it as a hobby, or a one time sell of a firearm to a person over state lines. The video focused on the amount of FFLs like they were all gun stores selling firearms on every street. There would be more gun stores than McDonalds, and that just isn’t the case for my area of the country (central Iowa).

        I do not know anything about applying for a FFL, so I’m just speculating.

      • September 15, 2013 at 6:26 pm

        “I mean a person whose sole and primary purpose in employment is not buying and selling guns. Somebody that does it as a hobby, or a one time sell of a firearm to a person over state lines.”

        Ah, ok – sorry just missed where you were going with that.

        There are undoubtedly people who buy and sell guns on a regular basis (ever how you define “regular”). My experience with people who do that is that they have particular interests in firearms, for example, Colt revolvers or Winchester lever guns. You could come up with dozens of other examples. And of course some people have multiple interests. So they are quite frequently buying/selling/trading trying to find that firearm that they just can’t live without. 🙂

        Most of these guns are probably not used in any crimes. Not too many 7-11s get robbed by a gun with a 19th century lever rifle or single action handgun.

        Semi-automatic handguns, primarily in 9mm, are probably the most popular handgun for crime and gangs, etc. I own a couple of them myself (Glocks).

        I wish there was good info on how these guns get into these hands. It seems to me that if we had good law enforcement focused on that they could figure it out without a lot of additional laws. But I am fairly skeptical of any real ability to keeps guns out of criminals hands. After all they can’t stop people from importing all sorts of drugs so why not guns if there is a demand.

        Not saying that something couldn’t be done. One of the real problems though, as I think I said earlier, is the gun-banners. Their inability to listen to the real concerns of gun owners guarantees a stalemate where everybody just ends up shouting at each other.



  2. September 14, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    “Gun manufacturing and sales is big business in the United States — as it turns out, one of the biggest.”

    Above is quote from the article you are touting.

    The business of manufacturing and selling firearms to private individuals (as opposed to military sales) is perhaps 1/100th the size of the pharmaceutical industry.

    Legal drugs are HUGE compared to firearms sales to civilians. A 100 times larger. There are individual drug companies that are in themselves larger than the entire civilian gun industry.

    So when some psyched out sociopath on ritalin or some other mind-abusing drug shoots up a school who has the political monetary influence to make sure it is blamed on guns and not on psychoactive drugs? Bingo! You got it. The drug companies.


    Guns And Drugs



    • September 15, 2013 at 2:37 pm

      Great point, on the comparison of profits. That one kind of stuck out to me, too. And the drugs, wow. It sure seems like drugs are prescribed in a lot of instances, when a good swift kick in the butt used to be the remedy for misbehavior.

  3. roamingfirehydrant
    September 14, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    I bought stock in Sturm Ruger last year. 3.2% return so far. Not huge, but savings accounts are less than 1%, so I’m happy with anything positive.

    • September 15, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      Yea, some companies have done ok, but many have struggled. You have to ask why if gun manufacturing is so profitable (as many gun control advocates assert) then why have so many went broke or been bought out, or re-organized. Smith & Wesson comes to mind (went through some rough years a while back) or Winchester which closed its doors in Connecticut (although has been resurrected by FN in, I believe, S. Carolina.).

      I am holding onto my Model 70 for now. It is already worth at least twice as much, if not more, than I paid for it.

      • roamingfirehydrant
        September 15, 2013 at 7:50 pm

        I think “Connecticut” is your answer there. PTR moved to SC. I wouldn’t be surprised if Colt eventually moved. Beretta is moving from Maryland. Magpul is probably still leaving Colorado despite the recall election.

        Wish I’d bought ammo maker Olin last year, too. Can’t buy ATK because of conflict of interest, but that would be another one.

    • September 15, 2013 at 2:37 pm

      Seems that with the election of the world’s best gun salesman, that would be a good investment.

  4. September 18, 2013 at 4:04 am

    No issues with the article.
    What’s been notable from my perspective is the manufactureers who’ve moved away from the states that introduced heavy antigun legislation.

    With their jobs.

    And their “tax revenue’ to the state.

    Colorado, Conneticut, and Maryland come to mind.

    I’m sure there is a wide spread from one-man ‘Jobber’ to Wide Corporate retail chain; if anything I would object to any effort to classify and restrict who can and who can’t “Retail”.

    As a reference there were American Frontiersmen who fought in the Battle of Saratoga who were armed with more effective arms than the worlds Superpower of the day, Great Britain.

    Now I’ve got to go back and watch that new “Sleepy Hollow” series! Outstanding.

  5. October 8, 2013 at 12:02 am


    I find it hard to believe there are roughly the same number of gun dealers and gas stations and drastically more than there are McDs.

    Plenty of medium to small suburban cities, like Alexandria VA, have no gun dealers and a crapload of gas stations.
    DC has one (1) gun dealer.

    I doubt any major city that restricts gun dealers have all that many dealers.

    All those places have plenty of gas stations, I live in a medium to small town in AZ, Apache Junction, there are a bunch of gun dealers here but more gas stations.

    If that stat is true (63% of all statistics are made up, everybody knows that), that’s very interesting and very encouraging if you’re a lover of freedom.
    Guns=freedom, a gov’t that doesn’t trust people with guns doesn’t believe in freedom. That’s axiomatic. .

    I wonder if they include Relic and Curio in that stat. Many (most?) of them are just collectors who don’t feel like dealing with an FFL to get antique weapons.

    A pet peeve, 88.8% should be written as “89%” not “88%”, especially if you’re really an MBA.

  6. November 8, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    interesting stats – as veeshir notes, stats are freely proffered and frequently suspect. I know many ppl that have antique arms collections that number in the 100’s – it’s not all that uncommon. Many of these same collectors have FFL’s. I wonder if the DCM / CMP collections and museum collections are factored into these numbers.
    At the various sport and conservation clubs that I belong to there are large numbers of FFL holders that sell very few new firearms but have the licenses in order to expedite arms transfers – LEGALLY. I know of none that engage in any transactions that are even remotely shady.
    As has been mentioned, the home FFL holder is anally probed by the BATF on a frequent and unannounced basis. It is harassment pure and simple. I’ve even witnessed one of these visits where a friend was threatened with prison time if the agent found so much as one thing wrong with any of his paper work – she went so far as to say her goal was to, at a minimum, revoke his license. Quite the stance for a government that promotes illegal sales of weapons to known criminals.
    Stats: I kind of like the way they threw in the 31.8 billion figure by combining firearms AND ammo sales. With the US, state(s), and local govt’s buying small arms ammo like it’s going out of style, art lady et al was able to dramatically beef up the numbers with a less than honest spin on who is actually accounting for large blocks of purchases.

    For me, I would like to see firearms ownership in the U.S. at 100% for law abiding citizens; with ammo sales that showed a robust training, sporting, and competition shooting mindset within American society. Of course, I’m crazy enough to also believe that the US Constitution is a great set of guidelines by which to model a society, that abortion is murder, and holding a door for women is not objectifying their gender. I like to remind my anti-gun acquaintances that firearms are just tools and so are some people. We can determine if, how, and when we are used – firearms can’t.

  7. November 9, 2013 at 1:49 am

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