An analysis of trends in handgun manufacturing for domestic sales since implementation ofthe Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act.
By Charles J Blankenship
Pennsylvania --(Ammoland.com)- Introduction
November 1998 was arguably the high Water mark for federal gun control in the US.
It was then the FBI implemented the National Instant Criminal Background Cheek System [NlCS], a key provision ofthe Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993. [Brady Bi11]. The NICS is designed to prevent certain prospective purchasers with criminal backgrounds from obtaining firearms.
The Brady Bill may have prevented some handgun violence because of the NICS checks but it did not achieve an implied purpose of reducing handgun purchases. Handgun sales data indicates that it may have unintentionally fed an on going rebellion against gun control by the American people.
Between 1998 and 2010 handgun sales, as indirectly tracked by handgun manufacturing for domestic sales, increased substantially. Sales of small framed concealable pistols, presumably to customers without criminal backgrounds, showed the largest increase in annual sales. The sales accelerated after the 2008 election.
It is not the intention of this report to present arguments for or against gun control legislation. The purpose is to suggest an objective methodology for measuring trends in gun sales and firearm possession for policy makers, using publicly available data and observing impacts of potentially causal events.
The analytical technique for this study uses data published annually by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives [ATF]. The Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Reports compile information submitted to ATF by firearm manufacturers through annual reports required under the provisions 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44, Firearms. The reports for 1998-2010 are shown in Attachment #3, The report for 2004 is excluded from this analysis due to insufficient data resulting from a 74% reporting rate.
The reports list Íìrearms manufactured in the US by type and, for pistols and revolvers, by caliber. The reports also reveal the number of exported ñrearms by type.
The basic assumption for this study is that firearm manufacturing is market driven and manufactures produce guns annually to replace sold inventory and to meet expected demand for their products.
Therefore the trajectory of ñrearm sales should parallel closely the quantities of guns manufactured over a period of years.
Firearms produced for domestic sales are calculated by subtracting exports from manufacturing totals.
The trend analysis for small frame concealable handgun sales is calculated by examining production of .380 caliber pistols. This weapon is not suitable for target shooting or hunting. lt is not issued to US police or military. It is produce almost exclusively in the US in small frame cancelable models for personnel defense.
Changes in manufacturing of .380 caliber pistols should therefore be a reliable barometer of trends in small frame cancelable handgun sales.
Annual production of .380 caliber pistols along with annual manufacturing of handguns for domestic sale is shown in Attachment #l. For comparison purposes annual quantities for domestic riíle sale production are listed in Attachment #2.
The following trends are concluded from an analysis ofthe ATF reports:
- Annual manufacturing of handguns for domestic sale increased by 219% between 1998 and 2010 since implementation ofthe NICS requirement ofthe Brady Bill. This is greater than the 137% annual increase in rifle sales for the same period. [A 171% increase in 2009 Ífìguresl.
- Annual manufacturing of small concealable handguns for sale rose by 667% between 1998 and 2010.
- Caliber .380 pistols represented 6.6% of total handgun sales in 1999 and increased to 24.2% by 2010.
- Annual firearm production and sales decreased during the 200l economic recession but did not slow down during the deeper and longer 2008-2009 global economic recession. This maybe the result of the effect of the election of 2008 and a perceived threat to gun ownership the election represented.
- Annual gun production and sales increased at greatr rates following the 2008 election.
Handgun, and particularly small concealable handgun production and sales saw dramatic increases in the years following implementation ofthe Brady Bill and were accelerated after the 2008 election. The clear lesson for policy makers is that Americans can rebel against gun control measures or perceived threats to firearm ownership, and that attempts to legislate or regulate firearms without Wide support u*om gun owners are likely to be counter productive.
The methodology used in this study, although not an exact count of actual gun purchases, can be utilized as an objective and transparent technique for future studies of trends in annual US firearm sales.
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