Guns Don’t Kill People, Flags Do?

Can you believe it? That idiot child murders nine innocent people in Charleston and today we’re talking about how Walmart won’t be selling t-shirts and coffee mugs with the Confederate battle flag. From a “do something” perspective, the smoke and mirror segue is obvious. But is it not apparent too, that all massacres in recent memory in the U.S. have been about mental illness—those people who are anti-government kooks, religious fanatics and white supremacist racists. The Oklahoma City Bombing. The Boston Marathon Bombing. The Newton Massachusetts School Shooting. And our Charleston buddy, Dylann Roof.

Truly, how can anyone miss that the true commonality is mental illness? Setting aside John Noveske, founder of Noveske Rifleworks, who published a list of shooters and the medication they took for mental problems making the link clear, think about who does this and at what age. Because when a young man’s (and it’s always young men) brains twist up into thoughts that support mass killings to make a political, religious or racist point (that is never heard in the aftermath of the horror witnessed) to me seems to be the real issue. Anyone who knows anything about neurological development knows that the early 20s is when brains stop changing and growing vigorously, and—if they weren’t already into animal torture and violent bullying (a sure sign of probable mental illness and a budding criminal personality)—that’s when things like schizophrenia start to present themselves and cause a brain to decide that killing as many people as possible is the thing to do.

As for the flag … I’m Southern. My family has been living in the South since the mid-1700s. My family home is on the National Register of Historic Places. In the town square there is a monument to the Civil War dead, and my family name appears on the side for Union-affiliated names and on the side for Confederate-affiliated names. I was raised to be proud of being Southern—the culture of friendliness and warmth, visiting, and food—but not to venerate symbols (e.g. the Confederate Battle Flag) or stupidity (e.g. the Civil War was over states’ rights). From a design perspective, the “stars and bars” is a memorable image. From an honor those who did what they thought was right perspective, like in 1985 when former President Reagan acknowledged honor when he laid a wreath at Bitburg Cemetery in then West Germany, it’s understandable too. What? You think we shouldn’t be proud of those Americans who served in Vietnam—one of the most indefensible military actions the U.S. ever engaged in—because it was a “bad” war? If so, then you must have been one of the crappy people spitting on GIs when they returned home.

While I’m sympathetic to Southerners who only see that flag as a sign of honor and southern pride, in truth it’s an image co-opted by white supremacists. Co-opted by ugly racists who band together to preach hate and to intentionally refuse to cooperate (and lack of cooperation is the death knell of a democracy). And when you teach that you are one thing and someone else is a hated “other,” guess who buys into that? Isolated folks. Mentally broken folks. Uncooperative folks who don’t understand how the world works and just what a grim place the world would be if they had their way. We have enough stuff to deal with, why oh why do we humor these losers?

Sadly and reasonably, one reason we humor them is privacy. If you’re old enough to remember when we actually had “insane asylums” then I don’t need to tell you about the dangers of declaring someone mentally incompetent, jailing them in perpetuity, and assuming you got it right. It’s a form of cruel and unusual punishment. If we were all required to have mental health assessments, what’s the bar for it becoming something that denies you health insurance? That makes you unemployable? I’m not being irrational. I had a mental health evaluator I visited as part of a job interview tell me that this particular agency would only hire people who were popular in high school because that was a key sign of success. So clearly, mental health professionals can be off their rocker too!

I’m as disdainful as you at our current “PC” culture (hence my fondness for words like “whack jobs”). That said, I’m all for acknowledging a beloved symbol was simultaneously adopted as a symbol to propagate virulent, violent racism. Even as I know that not selling products with battle flag insignia on them won’t stop white supremacists, the less chance they have to have their viewpoint validated by the Walmarts of the world, the better.

But I wish we could talk about mental health, instead of beating up on Southerners or calling for gun control. When 27 year-old Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed Germanwings Flight 9525 into the French Alps killing 150 people. When a few days after Roof murdered nine worshipers at Emanuel AME Church, a 26 year-old man purposely drove his car into a pedestrian area in Graz, Austria deliberately running over people and then jumped out to start attacking them with a knife, successfully killing three (including a 7 year-old boy), and injuring at least 30. When attackers use bombs like in Oklahoma City (Timothy McVeigh 27 years-old) and Boston (Tamerlan Anzorovich 26 years-old and Dzhokhar Anzorovich 20 years-old). Can we not see that mass murder events are about whack jobs acting out and not about how there would be no violence if guns didn’t exist? These mass murderers? They are mentally damaged people who will find whatever tool is at hand to kill. Let’s do something about this. Because while I’m not afraid of guns, I am afraid of whack jobs with cars who know where the local feed and hardware store is.

When Half Of The World Hates You

I must be a glutton for punishment. I started my career in the motorcycle industry working on motorcycle safety issues. Then I was a communications analyst for the intelligence community. Next up was as a U.S. diplomat representing America’s interests overseas. And now guns. It’s like I want people to hate me or something. Either it’s “the nicest people ride a Honda” or motorcycles are death machines. Intelligence gathering and data analysis are either critical for national security or unlawful spying on U.S. citizens (and proof that the government is out to get you). Diplomacy is an exercise in seeing people love everything American or protesting in the streets chanting “death to America.” And guns. Oh dear. So let’s just say, this thing of being on the side of the devil, I know it well. And it also means that not so humbly, I know a thing or two about how to handle yourself, your business, and your industry when half of the world hates you.

The way people express their disapproval and hatred of guns can be sneaky. Facebook, Google, Bing and Yahoo among others all have terms of service agreements that explicitly ban any form of firearm or associated product advertising. You can be logged into your Gmail account, merrily searching away in Google for the Glock 43 you want, and all that searching will not prompt your sidebar to be full of gun ads. So as a consumer you might not even notice it, might not even be aware of all the subtle prejudices and barriers to commerce out there, but those in the business do.

The way people express their disapproval and hatred of guns can blindside you. It’s hard to be in business if you only take cash. Too many people rely on credit cards to stretch their budget or to get points for extra savings to maximize the power of their dollars spent. You can’t operate a retail store without accepting credit card payments, nor can you be an online vendor. But guess what? Some of the most popular online credit card payment gateways have terms of service that don’t allow firearms sales. PayPal (with one of the cheapest transaction rates), Square Inc. (the mobile credit card processor), Intuit Go Payment among others … all refuse to serve firearms dealers. Of all the business challenges you think you might face, being refused service with no recourse because of the type of legal business you own is not one of them. Wait, aren’t there lawsuits of outrage against cake bakers and pizza joints who arbitrarily refuse to serve people?

The way people express their disapproval and hatred of guns can become public policy without Congress even noticing. The Justice Department’s Operation Choke Point that started in 2013 lumped gun sellers into the same bucket as payday loans, pornography, and escort services among others as being at risk for fraud. The goal of the program was to shut down fraudulent businesses by denying them access to banking services. But imagine the surprise of gun dealers across the country who had their accounts shut down because they ran a legitimate, legal business, selling a known product for an advertised price, put their daily take into the bank, and suddenly were deemed money launderers. I can see how a payday loan company could easily defraud me with hidden fees, but how is a gun store defrauding me when I purchase a firearm I want, at an advertised price that I agree to? Further, the ATF already has measures in place that get at things like money laundering, arms trafficking, and straw purchases, thank you very much.

And most obviously, the way people express their disapproval and hatred of guns is to be very vocal about it and try to shout louder via the media who invariably miss all the nuance and take up the side of “I never met a law I didn’t like” champions.

As you can see, when half of the world hates you, the avenues are many to trip you up. But when it comes to responding? Shouting louder, self-righteousness, and digging in your heels on what seems common sense to you doesn’t cut it. A democratic republic that protects both majority and minority alliances de facto means you can’t win via a scorched earth policy where your opponents go away forever.

The first thing to consider is that the media is not set up for nuance; it’s set up to push someone’s viewpoint (show me a writer that doesn’t have one, myself included), to break the issue down into two sides (left and right), and then to tell the reader what to think about it. Think of a polarizing issue. The media will tell you a person is either pro-life or pro-choice because those are the only options, but really query someone and you might find they are sometimes one and sometimes the other. Or take immigration; we’re supposed to either be moral and allow everyone in no matter what, or we’re supposed to defend the Constitution and exclude unlawful entrants and refugees regardless of why they want in; pick one, but not both.

Once you’ve become embroiled in a long-term shouting match with your opponent over “dire” public policy consequences, the way you get people on your side is to frame the issue around goals, beliefs and values they will support. In it’s most basic format that’s just the advertising we’re all used to, but in Washington, it’s known as issue framing where you talk about the policy outcome you want and how it meets the listeners values in order to garner support for it. The problem with issues framed as polar opposites is that the two sides are set up to be about two different things, so that you cannot support one without totally running over the other.

So here I sit, arguing that gun ownership and laws are about individual rights, defending the original intent of the Constitution, about my own personal protection and that of my family and property, about defending the American way of life to hunt and fish and make my own decisions about how I live my life. All very granular, individual things. And those shouting at me from across the fence? They are exercised about public health and safety. They are worried that the level of violence in the U.S. is impacting our overall public health, overrunning trauma centers, making cities inhabitable for families, tragically cutting short young lives. That there’s no way to keep our schools and public places free of devastating criminal attacks by madmen. That the majority of violence and crime they see around them would not happen if it weren’t for firearms. So either it’s about individual rights or public health. What sort of trade off is that? Either I get to live my life with rights given to me at our founding OR I get to care about public health and safety. But why not both?

So back to nuance. There are plenty of gun owners who would be completely comfortable with things like universal background check laws or other purchase restrictions. It’s ludicrous to think that gun owners don’t understand that without public health concerns, it’d be the year 1854 in London again and we’d all be dying of cholera because the water system was contaminated by sewage dumped directly into the Thames. We get it. But you know what those who hate us don’t get? That target shooting is fun and thus firearms aren’t just for protection, they are also an accessible, affordable and interesting hobby. That shooting is a sport for families. That there’s “nothing more relaxing than range day”.

Or there’s hunting. Oh so violent. Or redneck. Or something. And yet, when was the last time you looked at how animals were treated in our industrialized food production processes? Now there is something gross. And cruel. And unacceptable. It happens right here in your backyard too. Just ask Leprino Foods about what happened at Winchester Dairy in Roswell, New Mexico. Given that, why is hunting and eating what you kill the cruel thing?

Geography matters too. Do the same gun laws make sense for a lightly populated state where most live in rural areas far from their neighbors versus a densely packed urban neighborhood where people literally live on top of each other? Likely not.

In truth, people have the right to hate guns. It’s hard to blame them sometimes when all they know is the nightly crime report and some NRA-guy pontificating about the Constitution. It’s all well and good to say that gun owners shouldn’t have to defend ownership, but it’s not realistic when you are up against a public health and safety argument. Instead of arguing about constitutional-interpretation and organized militias, we need to be talking about target shooting as a hobby and why it’s fun and for the whole family; about hunting as a viable way to rid oneself of partaking in the animal cruelty that dogs industrialized food production; that we too care about public health and safety and want to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. And then we need to proffer solutions to do just that. Because there is nothing that calms a shouting enemy more quickly than solving their problem for them.

Pink Guns Are A Thing – Sigh … Eye Roll … Shrug

I hate pink guns. I hate what they represent because to me using pink as the go-to marketing tactic to make a product “for women” assumes we’re simple-minded (we think it won’t work for us/is scary unless it’s super-girly-blinged-out and pink) and are obsessed with accessorizing “our look” because appearance is everything! To me, when pink is used in this context it infantilizes women and keeps them as weak girls who are less threatening and befuddling. Or maybe it’s because women are so threatening and befuddling that you can almost see the bespectacled men sitting around a table, smoke pouring out of their ears as they ponder how to get women to buy guns, so discombobulated with the terror of it … that the eureka moment is “make it in pink”?

But why oh why can’t they just market good guns to us? Why do they have to be pink? I do recognize that it’s great how manufacturers have recognized that because enough women have become interested in firearms, it’s a market segment worth paying attention to. And I get that pink is a thing because the intent is to be unintimidating and inclusive, not sexist or dismissive. But when chatty industry marketing folk tell me that having pink guns in your store makes it more “female-friendly,” all I can think is “really?” Because while our store does have a few pink guns in stock, I had thought our store was customer-friendly because it’s well-lit, with a lot of cool, unique stuff in stock, the staff knows it’s products, and our prices are good.

One thing I know for sure, however, is if manufacturers are making pink guns, it’s because they sell and make money. So crud. Pink guns are a thing. But why? I’ve heard women buy pink guns to keep their husbands and boyfriends from appropriating them for themselves. I’ve seen men buy pink guns for their wives, girlfriends and daughters in an attempt to interest them in shooting. There are likely women who buy pink guns because they really do like pink and they find no shame in seeing a gun both as a weapon and an accessory. And then there are women like me, who only buy things like pink guns and blinged-out Hello Kitty iPhone cases to be ironic and unexpected. I plead guilty to the iPhone case, but I can’t grasp the irony of pink guns since at it’s heart it’s such an overt, lazy marketing ploy that my sensibilities are offended.

It’s also quite neat that manufacturers want to attract more women to shooting, even if cynically so in search of profit. And women are a robust, profitable market segment. In 2014, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) released a marketing survey “Women Gun Owners: Purchasing, Perceptions and Participation.” Among the data two things stood out to me: contrary to expectations, pistols and shotguns are purchased by women more often than revolvers; and, women say their firearm purchase decisions are mainly influenced by fit (hand and body), value for money, and intended use.

Fit, quality and practicality? Evidentially, less than 10% of the women surveyed chose a gun due to its feminine color; while in contrast, 25% specifically were attracted to a firearm’s “military tactical look and feel.” Well, well, well. Just where is pink in that equation? One place pink is, is in the info-graphic NSSF designed to highlight survey results. Entitled “Girl Power” it uses a pink and gray color scheme. Sigh (complete with an obligatory eye-roll for using “girl” and “woman” interchangeably). Did NSSF staffers not read their results??????

The thing is, no matter who you are, when shopping for a gun, you have to think about why you need it. Protection, conceal carry, target shooting, or hunting? That will determine what models/calibers are best to consider. And then there’s this very subjective thing of shoot-ability/ease-of-use, i.e. how comfortable is it for you to hold, carry and shoot? I’ll concede that women who are smaller in stature might prefer smaller grips or smaller pistols overall (witness the success of RYOBI Tools in the DIY-market where they are popular among women because they are lightweight for a power tool), but it doesn’t follow that making it pink will make the sale. Or interest her in firearms in the first place.

I think it comes down to this: if you need a gun for protection and select a pistol appropriate for that usage, that fits your hand, that’s comfortable to actually shoot then … fine, I guess if you want the pink version, then buy pink. But since it seems that women buy firearms for mostly the same reasons as men do, and select based upon the same criteria as men, then I wish manufacturers would get it. Guns aren’t deodorant where you can put less of the same formula in girly packaging and charge us more (hey ladies, if you’re still buying “women’s” deodorant, you’re paying too much!). Pink guns don’t need to be the marketing thing manufacturers (or retailers) hang their hat on to get women to buy or be interested in shooting. Because for every woman you lure in with pink, the rest are standing on the sidelines rolling their eyes at you and selecting a firearm from another manufacturer on principle.

The Gun Show Loophole And A Fearful Timid Industry

Industry and gun owner groups have become so focused on interpreting the Second Amendment and their defensive, victim-status posture of “the government is out to get us” that they’ve succumbed to reacting instead of deliberate, forward-thinking planning to grow their business, attract new people to shooting/hunting as a recreational sport, keep guns away from the criminals and enhance firearm safety across the country. This thing of “Oh nooooooo Mr. Bill, our rights are in danger!” has blinded industry leaders to the very thing that can save the industry from being regulated out of existence and make gun ownership palatable to all but the most virulent anti-gun folks.

Think about it. What’s the true number one issue the industry faces? It’s not really constitutional-manipulation (which takes forever given the way our government is designed to function), nor is it really child safety since absolutely no gun owner would ever argue against always striving to ensure the safety of the innocent and vulnerable. No, when it comes to firearms, the big deal for the non-gun buying public is crime: outlaw guns and crime will drop they say. It doesn’t matter if that is true or not; what matters is they wholeheartedly believe it.

Background checks at the point-of-sale via the FBI database NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) or a state substitute set up for instant checks, is an effective way to ensure that a convicted felon, a fugitive, a wife-beater, or a person with mental issues among others cannot buy a firearm. (It would be more effective if all states would enact laws that required all policing agencies and states to share all of their data with the NICS and each other – 15 years post-9/11 and we still have to ask law enforcement agencies to share data). Currently, like with all laws affecting gun ownership, states are all over the place with how they approach this. For example, some states, like New Mexico, require a NICS check whenever you purchase a firearm from an federal firearm licensed (FFL) dealer. Other states have exceptions; for example Texas runs the check to issue a CHL (Concealed Handgun License), and then that CHL serves as a permit to buy firearms in Texas without re-running a background check. How possible do you think it might be to obtain a CHL as a Texas resident, commit a crime the next day, be a known fugitive, but because the FFL will sell you a pistol given your valid in-hand CHL card, also be a criminal who legally buys a gun?

Or take the “gun show loophole.” This is the exception to the 1986 Firearms Owners’ Protection Act  (FOPA) that allows for the occasional private party sale. The intent of the law was partly to recognize that you could be a father who gives his son a rifle, or a collector selling an item that doesn’t suit her collection in order to get the money to buy something that does, or the family selling assets like a complete gun collection given the owner is deceased; in other words, you aren’t making your living selling firearms. But there is this phenomena of private party sellers who do make a living selling guns at gun shows, but without an FFL. These folks are effectively unlicensed dealers who can sell to anyone, with no background check, no verification of age, and no verification of residency. And my reading of this says that they are likely in violation of the law too by buying and selling to people from other states, although no one ever seems to check. While I’m sure that most private party sellers at shows do make a good faith effort to make sure the buyer is truly eligible, it seems reasonable to believe that some don’t, or perhaps just really aren’t good judges of character and inadvertently sell to a felon and budding miscreant.

Many buyers would prefer to buy private party because they think that a background check means the government knows what gun they just acquired. It pays to know your state laws because most states don’t do this (California is one state that does). Without question, there is no national registry. Plain and simple, buying a gun from an FFL doesn’t put your name on some Washington, DC-list for later use against you. But because of this fear, many gun owners do not support the idea of universal background checks.

Industry and gun owner groups will never be able to bring themselves to call for universal background checks for all sales; an industry that perceives itself as under threat is not in the frame of mind to ask for more laws. It’s a shame, because universal background checks would go a long way to quelling this belief that criminals can openly obtain guns just by walking into a store, gun show or trawling a Facebook gun sales group and buying one.

But there is another approach. A way that achieves the same thing, does it as an industry initiative to police itself in a way that would blunt the ability of lawmakers to propose restrictive-to-guns bills that would win them reelection and public fame given that there would be no political power/electoral return to proposing a bill to a problem already solved.

Want proof? All-terrain-vehicles (ATVs): when first released, ATVs were inherently unstable 3-wheeled recreational vehicles. The injury and death rate from their use was alarming. But the industry did something smart. First, they admitted that the design of 3-wheels was unstable and re-introduced the product with 4-wheels. Next, they accepted a 10-year consent decree with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to set age/size guidelines, have permanent safety labeling on each unit regarding age/size, safe operation and riding gear, and to provide free rider-training to all dealer purchases. The consent decree expired in 1997, but to this day, dealers will not sell you an adult-sized ATV for your child, all units are permanently labeled with safety information, and if you buy an ATV from a dealer, you will get a call from the ATV Safety Institute to schedule you into a free rider-training class. By hitting all those marks, the ATV industry has done everything it can to educate riders and keep them safe, as well as to prevent new burdensome regulation and laws. ATV injury and death rates are still rather shocking, but each time the media or a legislator investigates the issue, they see that the industry is doing absolutely everything it can, that there isn’t any new law that would accomplish anything more. When later, ATVs and off-highway vehicles came under attack for tearing up public lands? The industry again proactively began working with states to create ATV and mixed-use trails – in other words they accepted the problem as real and did something about it rather than just lobby the government to “stay off our backs.”

Can self-regulation really work? Can an industry really police itself? I think so. Any political scientist like myself can tell you that social norms matter more than laws when it comes to coordinating behavior – habit, expectations and tradition are stronger regulators of behavior than laws. Funnily enough, there is a private party sale arena that demonstrates that gun owners have the propensity to self-regulate. There are a plethora of Facebook gun groups like this one organized by city/state to facilitate private party sales. Individuals are buying/selling/trading one gun at a time, legally given that no one is making a living doing this. There’s some high-volume churn of firearms going on. And you’ve got to assume that not all participants are on the up and up. Like with anything, most are, but it’s both a caveat emptor and caveat venditor situation. And yet if you look, members will post when they’ve had a good experience with someone. They’ll post if they see a name they recognize in the local media who was arrested so group owners can ban that user from the group. They are paying attention to who is buying and selling with the intent of not selling to criminals and others restricted from gun-ownership.

There’s no point in burying our heads in the sand. We here in Las Cruces, NM live in borderlandia; we have an interest in not falling victim to or inadvertently assisting the criminal network operating between the US and Mexico. We have an interest in maintaining legal gun sales to shooting enthusiasts and hunters. Private party sales at scale are concerning because it’s lunacy to think that criminals and other baddies aren’t using that as an easy way to traffick in firearms or buy them in service of pursing criminal intent. NICS is an incomplete database because not all state records are included. Who do you want to solve this? What kind of solution do you want, an imposed one or one that respects the habits and traditions of gun owners and firearm manufacturers? I want the latter and this is a challenge to us to find those solutions. Other industries have done it and ours can too. But the first step is realizing that we have to choose the offensive position, and leave the defensive posture used here-to-date behind.

We Have Met The Enemy And He Is Us

We had barely opened the doors of Miller Guns & Ammo in Las Cruces, NM and in they marched looking for “22 ammo”, i.e. .22 long rifle (lr) rimfire ammunition. They rushed passed the 100’s of rifles and pistols and piles of accessories in stock and made a beeline straight for our shelves of ammunition tucked into the back corner of the store; shelves that are stacked full of options for all the different types of firearms that our federal firearm licensed (FFL) store sells. First they would look. And then they would turn and call out, “Hey, do you have any .22?” or exclaim, “What? Your .22 is [x] cents a round, that’s extortion! I can get it cheaper at [insert store name here].”

Our little inside joke to blow off steam?  “Sure, that’s the price they advertise. We could say we sell it for that price too if we didn’t have any in stock like them.”  In truth, for me, I’ve lost my patience with the lack of understanding of market forces and how our government operates; with the fear mongering and commitment to the idea that Armageddon and the zombie apocalypse are only days away; with the tendency to proclaim “but that store has it at this (unrealistic) price” to whatever proprietor they happen to be pressuring for a deal as if their saying it made it so.

So what gives? Well, there actually is a real increase in demand. More people buying more guns that shoot more ammo. We now have an entire generation of “shooting age” buyers with a preference for a tactical look and feel thanks to Middle East deployments and hours spent mastering Call of Duty and Halo. The market responded as it is wont to do with these things known as “tactical” .22 rifles that look and rat-a-tat-tat shoot like their bigger brethren — given the up to 25 round capacity magazines — but are still cheap and easy to handle .22s. Are you really going to take a 25-round capacity mag to the range and not shoot all of it? And then not insert the second and third full mags in your range bag and do it again? Me neither. Boom, increased demand.

But wait there’s more! A scarcity caused by an almost fake demand if you will. Up first are those ever growing in numbers people channeling their inner Chicken Little, buying and hoarding, buying and hoarding, because one day, .22 will be the equivalent of gold! Ranging from people with the all-American desire to be self-sufficient and escape the pressures of modern day life; to those who fear unilateral government action and rule by fiat without even understanding how very difficult change comes to a government with a Constitution written to slow that change stuff down; all the way to the conspiracy theorists who truly believe our government is on the brink of collapse, the dollar is worthless, the zombies are coming, and when they do it will be “anarchy I say!” while simultaneously merrily ignoring the truths of: American Exceptionalism (our founders created the most stable democratic republic the world has ever seen); why money has any value at all (you can return to the trade and barter system if you’d like, but I don’t want to go there with you); that zombies don’t exist (really, they don’t); and that people have an evolutionary predisposition to gravitate towards living in groups in order to sustain life.

And the trend towards fear of the future is further fed by psyche shocks, made worse by the drumbeat of the 24-hour news-cycle media hype. From dreadful events like the Newton MA and the Aurora, CO theater shootings to the Boston Marathon bombing, the horror of it plus watching coverage of it on TV for weeks on end make almost everyone wonder how they would have reacted if they’d been there and how can they keep their families safe. A contemplation further goaded by the media’s love of blaming guns/gun owners whenever disaster strikes.

All of the above (real demand, fear of the future, and buying into media alarmism) has coalesced into hoarding. Instead of buying what you need for the day? You buy every box. And then come back again and do it the next day. And the next. Irrationally, you routinely buy more than you need, becoming price insensitive as you’ll pay whatever to get it. Increasing demand both falsely and exponentially at the exact same time. “Better safe than sorry,” says the survivalist; “.22 lr will be like gold!” say the zombie-anarchy-fearers.

Good old American entrepreneurialism plays a role too. The snake oil salesmen from the days of yore returned to price gouge purely because they could. Frenzy and hoarding allowed the demanders to become actual victims. It’s like when it’s about to snow back east. The first thing that happens? The stores are wiped clean of milk, eggs and bread. The nightly news always gets a few minutes of airtime showing the empty shelves, “oh no we’ll starve!” Why do people always buy more than they need of those exact items? Because they see others doing it. Our herd instinct kicks in, we panic, we hoard, prices soar, and the shelves empty even though enough is in the supply pipeline to provide.

And then bam! You all become price sensitive again. You complain bitterly about the very circumstance you created, higher .22 lr ammo prices. Every article I’ve seen written on the topic is followed by 100’s of comments that say things like, “I personally have not fired a weapon in 10 years yet I have been purchasing ammunition regularly until I have 1000 rounds each for my .22, 12 gauge, and .303.” We have met the enemy and he is us. This is the attitude that makes your ammo “scarce” and expensive.

So you have a choice, change your behavior or accept market forces are real and that the perfect storm of factors that increased demand and kept it elevated in the face of higher prices means it’s not the year 1995 where .22 lr is 1 or 2 cents a round, most 22 rifles are single shot, and gas is 98 cents a gallon. Instead, it’s 2015 and in our world of more gun buyers (a good thing!), more .22 lr gun options (a great thing!), and a tendency to believe the big bad government is out to get you — sort of like the ancient Greeks created the gods to explain things like how the sun moved across the sky (sigh) — mean that unless there is a dramatic shift in attitudes, you’re going to have to pay more to get what you want. Especially for the quality stuff.