Armed America: Behind a broadening run on gunsHere's my favorite part of the story:
ATLANTA - What do an elderly Oklahoma homeowner, a Virginia Citizen Militia member, and a Texas airline pilot all have in common these days?
They're all part of America's massive gun-and-ammunition buying spree – a national arming-up effort that began before last year's election of President Obama and continues unabated. Across the United States, it has led to shortages of assault-style weapons, rising prices, and a broadening of gun culture to increasingly include older Americans, women and – gasp – liberals.
The buying trend, however, is far deeper and more prolonged than any knee-jerk reaction to an election or potential legislation, experts say. Though liberals still favor gun control at far higher percentages than conservatives, Americans as a whole are edging in the direction of more gun rights, according to a recent poll by Rasmussen Reports, an independent polling firm in New Jersey.
A major piece of the shift is the perception among many Americans that crime is rising rapidly. Nearly a third of Americans surveyed in the Rasmussen poll say crime has increased in their neighborhoods, and 72 percent say it's very likely that crime will grow in the near-term.
The FBI reported in January that, nationwide, violent crime was down 3.5 percent in 2008, robberies were down 2.2 percent, and car thefts declined by 12.6 percent. Those statistics contrast with 2006, when robberies, for example, jumped by nearly 10 percent.
The fears are in some cases taking on a Y2K-like fervor, forecasting total social meltdown. In times such as these, Americans have always reached for their guns, says David Kopel, research director for the Independence Institute, a free-market-oriented think tank in Golden, Colo. He digs up a clipping from a Massachusetts newspaper published three months before the "Shot Heard Around the World" that started the Revolutionary War. The article documented a vast gunpowder shortage blamed on "wolves and other beasts of prey" lurking about. Modern fears are fueled by the prospect of an apocalyptic economic failure.
"The logic is simple," says Tom Lee, a member of the Virginia Citizen Militia, which traces its roots to the Revolutionary War. "People are seeing a looming economic collapse that will lead to a prolonged and possibly worsening breakdown of law and order and, eventually, a We-the-People vs. armed-government-enforcers scenario. I'm sure I'm not the only one who sees through the Keynesian scam and sees the wisdom in preparing for the worst."
Some gun-control advocates are bewildered by the uptick.
"We find [it] disconcerting," says Juliet Leftwich, legal director for the Legal Community Against Violence in San Francisco.Good lord, they're even dumber than I think they are!