We’ve all seen it.  A weatherman (sexism intended) comes on the TV/radio and warns you of an impending storm or tornado or hurricane.

What happens?  Everybody runs to the grocery store and buys everything.  The local home improvement stores sell out of plywood and generators.  More often than not, a great deal of what is purchased is not used.  The panic subsides.  Life goes on.

George and Mary Bailey (Jimmie Stewart & Donna Reed) in “It’s a Wonderful Life”

That is what is happening in the firearms industry right now.  In the wake of the Newtown massacre and the saber-rattling by anti-gun forces: Americans have gone on a firearms buying spree.  Most popular weapons, magazines, and ammunition have been bought up.  Any that are left in stock are going for outrageous prices.  Demand is as high as it has been in recent memory and retailers are taking advantage of consumers who purchase their goods out of impulse and not planned rational thought.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m a raging capitalist.  I don’t begrudge any retailer who, when faced with overwhelming demand, adjusts their prices to what the current market will bear.  This is Economics 101.  Did you watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” during the Christmas holiday?  Remember when Potter was buying up all of the distressed assets when the banks were failing?  It’s no different.  Just like George Bailey you must keep your head and ride this panic out.



So you’ve been to your local gun stores over the holidays and left depressed by the empty shelves.  You want to buy a firearm.  But pickings are slim.  What should you do?  Here are a few ideas:

  1. If you absolutely must have an AR but can’t find one  –  Buy a stripped lower or two.  We’ve discussed stripped lowers before, so I won’t go into what it is.  In a normal market these can be had from $75-150.  Even if you don’t relish the thought of assembling one yourself, there are people all around you who can.  Buy the lower receiver.  Do the paperwork.  Endure your waiting period if you have one.  Then squirrel away that lower in your gun safe until such time as prices return to normal and you can purchase the parts to complete it at a reasonable cost.

  3. Join the NRA or extend your existing membership – Why spend a $200-400 premium for that AR you just have to buy now when the money may be better spent fighting to make sure you can still buy one a year or ten from now?  That would be a better investment.  And there are plenty of good, freedom-loving organizations besides the NRA, including your state rifle and pistol associations, the Second Amendment Foundation, and others.  Join them.  Sign up for their news alerts.  Stay in the fight.

  5. Fix or update the guns you already have. –  If you already own a firearm that you don’t shoot as much as you used to, ask yourself why.  Then go online and see if there is a remedy for that thing that bothers you.  If the firearm is remotely popular, chances are someone else has encountered the same issue.  More than likely there is a fix for it.  I have a revolver that I purchased 20 years ago.  I thought the trigger was a little heavy and the grip was too big.  So I went online and found a new grip and a spring kit for that exact model.  Total cost, $30.  I broke down the weapon, polished several of the internal parts, took two pounds off of the trigger pull with the new springs, and voila!  It’s like a new gun.  I can’t wait to shoot it now.  I have a half-dozen other projects I can do that will make older weapons more modern, more reliable, and more fun to shoot.  You probably do also.

Prices and supply will return to normal at some point.  

When it does, start buying ammunition again.  Buy a little each month and you’ll avoid the ups and downs of the market. Maintain a stockpile that you are comfortable with.  The next time one of these panic buying sprees happens, you’ll be the one at the range shooting while everyone else is in the pro shop cleaning out the shelves.