Many years ago in Chicago, on a beautiful snowy night, I walked down the wrong alley and was robbed at knifepoint.
Later, with my last few coins, I purchased a coffee in an all-night diner. The diner was almost deserted: just me, the owner, and a middle-aged black woman wearing a full length muskrat coat.
The owner advised me not to walk alone after dark. I asked him if it was safe for him. He said, “Yes – it’s safe for me – because when I’m ‘alone’…I’m not really alone”. He pulled back his jacket, revealing a Beretta 92.
Collectively Americans own 265 million guns – more than one for every adult. According to a recent Harvard study, 50% of those guns – 133 million – are in the homes of “Super Owners” who possessed between 17 – 130 guns each.
When gun ownership rights are threatened, Americans buy more guns. When ownership rights are securely protected, they buy fewer guns.
President Donald Trump has been so friendly to the gun lobby – Americans are not adding to their arsenals at normal rates.
On August 3, 2017 shares of the $900 million weapons manufacturer Sturm Ruger & Co. (RGR.NYSE) fell 10% after the Q2 sales came in 22% below the 2016 Q2 when President Barack Obama was in office.
The most accurate proxy for U.S. gun purchases is the number of FBI background weapon checks. In the first 60 days of Trump’s presidency background checks plummeted by almost one million.
So yes, since Trump moved into the Whitehouse, gun makers have been taking a hit.
A year ago, most people assumed that Hillary Clinton was going to win the Presidency. During the campaign, she had vowed to tighten gun-control measures.
“I believe weapons of war have no place on our streets,” stated Clinton, “If the FBI is watching you for suspected terrorist links, you shouldn’t be able to just go buy a gun with no questions asked. You shouldn’t be able to exploit loopholes and evade criminal background checks by buying online or at a gun show.”
Clinton’s platform included 3 “anti-gun” policies:
- Expanding background checks to more gun sales—including by closing the gun show and internet sales loophole.
- Taking on the gun lobby by removing the industry’s sweeping legal protection for illegal and irresponsible actions, and revoking licenses from gun dealers who break the law.
- Supporting laws that stop domestic abusers from buying and owning guns, making it a federal crime for someone to intentionally buy a gun for a person prohibited from owning one.
Pop quiz [tick one box]: Hilarity Clinton’s gun policy was:
If you ticked the box marked “common sense” then you are not a true American.
Donald Trump is a true American. He has already signed a measure into law that retracts an Obama-era plan to block gun sales to mental patients.
The Obama policy was strongly opposed by the NRA who stated that it, “infringed upon Second Amendment rights by denying due process.”
Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley also expressed his outrage at the fascist attack on American values: “if a specific individual is likely to be violent due to the nature of their mental illness, then the government should have to prove it!”
Last month, the GOP-majority Senate passed a bill by a 57-43 margin, insuring all mental patients have the right to purchase weapons. Donald Trump did a victory lap at an NRA conference.
A new study by the Pew Research Center reveals two-thirds of Americans have lived in a household with a gun at some point in their lives. 72% say they’ve shot a gun.
Forty-four percent of survey participants stated that they personally know someone who has been shot. That includes 51% of gun owners, 57% of African-Americans, 43% percent of whites and 42% of Hispanics. If you own a gun, you are 11% more likely to know someone who has been shot.
Just over 25% of Americans say that some member of their family has been threatened or intimidated by someone with a gun. Race also plays a significant role in attitudes to guns. 50% of African Americans are concerned about gun violence in their community compared to just 11% of whites.
Fifty-four percent of gun owners say more guns would mean less crime, while only 23% of non-gun owners believe this.
Political affiliations also help to define relationships to guns. About 70% of Republican gun owners think more guns will lead to less crime, compared to just 24% of Democratic gun owners
Trump’s warm and fuzzy relationship with the NRA has made Americans feel so safe they’ve stopped buying guns.
Sturm, Ruger and Co. sells single-shot, auto-loading, bolt-action, and sporting rifles, as well as rim-fire and centerfire auto-loading pistols and single-action and double-action revolvers.
Up here in Canada, we sometimes associate gun ownership with vigilantism. But let’s face it, who wouldn’t feel safer walking into Pilates class with a Ruger AC556 slung over the shoulder?
Ruger’s gun sales are down 12% on the year. In the last 12-months, Sturm, Ruger and Co.’s stock has fallen more than 21%. Ninety percent of the losses came after the election of President Trump.
That night in Chicago, the snow kept falling. The black woman in the fur coat left without speaking to me. I had no bed to sleep in that night. I nursed the coffee as long as could. As dawn was breaking, the owner brought me a gigantic bowl of hot chili with melted cheese and cornbread.
I told him I was unable to pay for it. He pointed to the booth where the woman had been sitting. “She paid for it”.
That stopped me in my tracks. Why would a black woman, in a black neighborhood – buy a bowl of chili for a skinny white kid she didn’t know?
I asked the diner owner exactly that question.
“Some people are just nice,” he said, “That’s all”.
The world is, what we will it to be.
When I imagine America I close my eyes and think of that kind mysterious woman in Chicago.