On Saturday night, my wife and I sat in the living room and watched the news as the downtown area of our home city of Grand Rapids, MI was trashed. Windows of small businesses in the area were broken and their merchandise looted. Several fires were lit. The area was covered with spray paint and graffiti. They even broke into the Grand Rapids Art Museum.
This was happening less than 10 miles from our home. Now, that may not be a big deal to some of you, but in a smaller, conservative city like Grand Rapids we’re used to watching the news report about these things taking place in bigger cities. We’re used to reading about such unrest in places like New York or Chicago or Detroit or Atlanta or Dallas or any number of other cities across the country, not in our own backyard.
To their credit, I think the law enforcement in our town did an excellent job of dealing with a difficult situation. Likewise, the mayor was supportive of the police and responded with a reasonable curfew for the next two days. Most importantly, this curfew was enforced. By Monday evening, the Michigan National Guard was on the scene to support the local law enforcement effort.
But on Saturday, as we watched, our conversation turned to the idea of getting a gun in the house. We had one several years ago, but during a period of unemployment I had to sell it (to a reputable gun shop here in town) so as to buy new car seats for the kids. Now, with the situation in the country being what it is and it being within a stone’s throw of our house, we began to think it might be time to get a new one.
Apparently, we aren’t the only ones to think along these lines. In anticipation for an increased demand in the firearms market, the stock of gun manufacturers has jumped significantly in recent days. It was reported on Monday that Smith & Wesson stock jumped 15.1% to $13.61. Likewise, Ruger stock jumped 9.4% to $68.20.
These stock prices are certainly being reflected by the facts on the ground as well. In L.A. gun shops are reporting that lines of customers waiting to get into the building are wrapped around the block. In many locations, they are selling out of inventory. Here in Grand Rapids, the gun shop I mentioned earlier scheduled a dozen classes on pistol safety for the month of June and all of those classes were booked to capacity withing a few hours. Estimates are that May gun sales are 80% higher than they were during the same period last year. And the FBI is reporting record numbers in gun background checks.
Fueling this are the recommendations of experts that the best things individuals can do right now is buy guns and ammo. Jim Hanson, President of the Security Studies Group, recommended this on his Twitter account and during an on-air conversation with conservative media personality Jesse Kelly.
The cause for this demand that comes to mind most immediately is the riots and looting over this past weekend in response to the death of George Floyd. However, the Coronavirus, food shortages, and increased unemployment over the last two months have all contributed to the unease felt nationwide and the resulting spike in gun sales. Additionally, gun sales typically run higher in presidential election years as well.
If the second half of 2020 is anything like the first half, this situation will not be letting up anytime soon. This means that those interested in playing the market might have a safe bet in the gun industry. For the rest of us it means that it might be time to go purchase a little ease of mind.