The United States is the most heavily armed nation in world history, and it seems we have President Barack Obama to thank for it.
Before you ask: we’re not talking about the U.S. military, we’re talking about the firearms owned by the general population. The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) estimates that there are roughly 300 million firearms in the United States — and of those, nearly 40 million new firearms have been sold just since Barack Obama came into office in 2009.
This is a staggering jump of more than 15 percent in just over four years, in a nation 237 years old.
Other estimates put the number of firearms in this nation much higher, such as the 310 million figure cited by the Congressional Research Service. An estimated 10 million firearms now enter the domestic market each year, and the majority of them are semi-automatics designed for personal defense.
To put these forty million new guns sold (along with up to 30 million used guns sold) in just over four years into context: the M1 Garand — the primary rifle of the U.S. military through the full mobilization of the country during World War II and the Korean War — saw just 6.25 million produced in its 21-year production run from 1936-1957.
Under Obama, Americans have purchased nearly seven times that number of new firearms — in just over four years.
The current standing military of the United States, including National Guard, Air National Guard, and Reserve units, is approximately 2.2 million servicemen. Citizens have purchased enough new firearms since 2009 to equip every member of the military 18 times. Of those arms purchased, the overwhelming majority aren’t sporting arms (like Vice President Joe Biden’s recommendation of an archaic double-barrel shotgun). As I noted in December, people are buying very specific arms designed for very specific purposes:
Manufacturers were running full-bore, but couldn’t come close to keeping up with market demand. It wasn’t just the AR-15s, the AK-pattern rifles, the M1As, and the FALs that were sold out. It really hit me when I realized that the World War-era M1 Garands, M1 carbines, and Enfield .303s were gone, along with every last shell. Ubiquitous Mosin-Nagants — of which every gun store always seems to have 10-20 — were gone. So was their ammo. Only a dust free space marked their passing. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Every weapon of military utility designed within the past 100+ years was gone …
Rifles and pistols of military utility were the first to sell out, and are still in the highest demand.
On top of the number of (mostly non-sporting) firearms being purchased, there is a tremendous amount of ammunition being consumed by the American people.
During the full mobilization of World War II, the “Arsenal of Democracy” manufactured roughly 47 billion rounds of ammunition, or roughly 13.4 billion rounds per year over our participation from Pearl Harbor until VJ-Day. Currently, the American people are consuming 10-12 billion rounds of ammunition a year, and even despite those impressive peacetime production figures, ammo shelves are bare at the retail and distributor levels.
The most “common” cartridges are in very short supply, and when ammunition is found, it is often being sold for two or three times what it cost less than a year ago. The 500-round “bricks” of .22LR — a rimfire cartridge commonly used for small game hunting and target practice — routinely went for $15 as recently as six to eight months ago. Today, if bricks of .22LR can be found, they are often selling for $50.
Military and self-defense calibers are among those in shortest supply. Quantities of 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP in full-metal jacketed loads are extremely difficult to obtain for service pistols, as are the .223 Remington/5.56 NATO common to the AR-15 platform, the 7.6×39 common to Mini-30, SKS, and AKM-pattern rifles, and the 7.62x54R and .308 Winchester/7.62 NATO used in popular Soviet and NATO battle-rifle calibers. Back-orders for many of these common cartridges extend from six to 18 months.
Tellingly, much of the ammunition being purchased is not being shot, but is instead being stockpiled.
It is now common for even recreational shooters to amass a reserve of thousands to tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition as a hedge against future shortages or expected price increases.
Some individuals have amassed hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition (none of those contacted by PJ Media wanted to discuss their purchases on the record). The majority of these individuals have noted the drastic increase in the cost of ammunition and the more telling long-term cost of ammunition and components, and view ammunition as a stable long-term investment: “Lead is the new gold” is becoming a common phrase.