The Other Reason Guns Are Flying off the Shelves

June 17th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

It's a consistent trend: in the aftermath of a mass shooting, guns sales tend to spike in the U.S. But the reason for the surge isn't just fear, it's also opportunism.


Yes, fear drives many to gun shops following violent attacks — fear of future violence as well as fear stoked by talks of gun reform.

But there's another reason gun sales spike after mass shootings.

Some people are buying guns so they can turn a profit, according a Fox Business report.

"[People] are afraid that the government is going to take [guns] away and there are folks that are in fear because of the times that we are living in today and those are two big reasons," Jay Wallace, the owner of a gun shop in Smyrna, Georgia, told Fox Business. "There are also those that feel that the guns are going to go up in value so they buy them for investment."

assault rifle

But does the price of a gun really increase enough to justify purchasing a few $500 semi-automatic rifles after a mass shooting with the intent to resell?

The answer is a bit complicated.

If you think that the government is gradually infringing on the Second Amendment with plans to eventually ban certain types of guns — say, semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 — then the logic might seem sound. After all, demand for assault rifles climbed substantially as Congress moved to vote on a ban on some semi-automatic firearms in 1994. It caused the price of these guns to go up by hundreds of dollars, The Huffington Post reports.

But the logic behind the resell strategy is flawed. Federal data shows that "the [1994] ban triggered speculative price increases and ramped-up production of the banned firearms prior to the law’s implementation, followed by a substantial postban drop in prices to levels of previous years," a 1999 report from the National Institute of Justice found.

assault rifle

There are currently talks of reinstating the federal assault weapons ban in response to the Orlando mass shooting, but the prospects of a reform measure like that passing are fairly slim, experts say. At this point, reform advocates are struggling to pass even less ambitious measures, such as expanded background checks for gun buyers.

So from a long-term perspective, at least, the evidence doesn't seem to support the idea that investing in semi-automatic rifles would be financially fruitful. But not everyone is convinced, apparently.

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