Guns in America: Retail Sales

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Paul Barrett, assistant managing editor of Bloomberg Businessweek and author of, Glock:The Rise of America's Gun, returns for the second installment in the series on gun ownership.  Today as Vice President Biden's task force hears from Walmart, the country's leading gun retailer, we focus the discussion on gun sale spikes, registration, licensing and confiscation.

Help Build Our Guns Glossary: Got a term or word that's part of the gun debate you want clarified? Post your suggestion in the comments, and we'll build our glossary over the course of this series.


Paul Barrett

Comments [50]

RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

@gary from Qns

"Part of the problem is that many people engaged in the argument do not interpret the 2nd Amendment with respect for its historical context, but rather in light of what they want it to mean in support of their purposes."

You oughta know, you are one of them.

"The first clause reflected the concern of the Framer's fear of the tyranny of the Central government..."

Says you. America in the 18th century was a frontier country. The militia was intended to protect the commonweal from threats - usu. 'savages'. The same weapons could be used against a supposed tyrannical government but the point was that the government could not prevent the citizens from collectively protecting themselves. This is what King George's government attempted to do and this is what the amendment is supposed to protect.

Weapons caches and arsenals which citizens used to protect themselves could not be outlawed. It is solely a matter of interpretation whether this right applies to the collective or to individuals. Most of our legal history has upheld the states' right to regulate firearms ownership and sales. Lately, SCOTUS has swung the other way so there is no longer a clear reading of what is meant by the Second Amendment. Please don't argue from the point of view that our language and history could not be clearer. If you do, I would ask you to show my your RPG or even better show me a picture of you carrying your RPG on the street.

The state has the right to limit individuals gun buying behavior. Your argument, is precisely why I suggest that the Second Amendment itself be amended to limit individual gun ownership to persons who have passed a gun safety course and even that right may be broached if the person is found to be fundamentally unstable.

Jan. 10 2013 04:20 PM

Keith Ratliff "practiced, practiced, practiced".

Jan. 10 2013 12:33 PM
gary from queens

I'm amazed. i thought when i came back, someone would have corrected the stupidity here. Why can't liberals comprehend this?

"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

The first clause reflected the concern of the Framer's fear of the tyranny of the Central government, while the second clause relates to their concern of tyranny of the majority. The latter more than any other, helps to defend individual liberties in the Bill of Rights. The two clauses were not meant to mitigate the other. They stand independently of each other. Furthermore,

Given that all able free men between 18 and 45 had to be enrolled in the militia (see Statutes at Large, 2nd Congress, 1st Session, 271), the militia clause amounts to a promise that citizens can have the weapons needed to defend the security of the state. Nowadays that means, at the least, an ordinary infantry weapon such as an M-16 or an AK-47.

Part of the problem is that many people engaged in the argument do not interpret the 2nd Amendment with respect for its historical context, but rather in light of what they want it to mean in support of their purposes.

The 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was derived from our understanding of the British experience that militias were necessary to curb the tyrannical powers of the king. In our case, 'well regulated militias' were necessary as a condition of the colonies to agree to subordinate their sovereignty to a federal government. They wanted a guarantee of power to insure that some future federal government could not egregiously exceed its powers prescribed in the body of the constitution they agreed to.

The only way the Founders of America could ensure citizen proficiency in arms and make private ownership and use of arms a tenet of the constitution establishing the government. For these reasons, it should come as no surprise that the rights of freedom of speech and to 'keep and bear arms comprise the first and second amendments to the constitution establishing them as rights of citizenship.

Jan. 10 2013 12:25 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ dboy

That's why, if you're going to carry, you need to practice, practice, practice. Poor, panicked shooting gets innocent people killed.

That's why I don't carry - I don't want that kind of responsibility.

Jan. 10 2013 12:23 PM

"When you're under extreme stress, your reaction time slows down..."

...and, you're likely to end up dead.

Jan. 10 2013 12:20 PM

"...there were many guns found near Ratliff's body, but said those weapons were not involved in the killing."

Keith Ratliff was HEAVILY armed. It didn't help.

Read more:

Jan. 10 2013 12:17 PM

For all you Fox® gun kooks:

Jan. 10 2013 12:04 PM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

DBoy - That's why I am not a fan per se, of conceal and carry. I don't want people just running around with holsters like the wild west. But if you are an armed criminal, planning to rob a business in NYC, the thought of getting return fire, doesn't even cross your mind. Not the case in Texas.

Jan. 10 2013 11:53 AM

...a cab driver??? Really???

What the hell is a cab driver going to do with a gun??

Let's see... what does a cab driver do??? He drives. He drives people sitting in the back seats of their cars. Eyes on the road. Passenger/criminal puts a gun to the back of his head and demands his cash.


Maybe the "bad guy" won't mind if the cab driver stops the car, puts it in park, bends over, reaches under the seat, unholsters his gun, turns and... what???


Jan. 10 2013 11:50 AM

David from Fredericksburg, VA~

Good job!!

The GUNS WERE LEGALLY OWNED!! Legally owned guns get turned on innocent people EVERY SINGLE DAY, both by criminals and law abiding citizens!!

Jan. 10 2013 11:34 AM
Ed from New Jersey

I do not choose to own a gun however that is my choice that I am able to make under the Constitution. I am alarmed that some people are so willing to give up their rights to government officials for the perception of security. Restricting guns, ammunition and magazine capacity will do little to solve the issue of criminals ability to get a weapons. Also the person with mental problems that is committed to violence will find a way to do it in another way. In many cities such as Chicago, Washington DC, New York City, Los Angeles and others gun laws are very regulated, gun violence happens on a daily basis by by these very people.
Clearly there is no need for reasonable people to have metal piercing or hollow point ammunition, military weapons or body armor. But foregoing Constitutional rights of everyone should be the last option.

Jan. 10 2013 11:29 AM

Sheldon from Brooklyn~

I'm open to the possibility of exceptions but, the notion that you can get the "jump" on someone who ALREADY HAS THE JUMP ON YOU is LUDICROUS!!!

The criminal has the element of surprise on his side!!.


The only way to counter this advantage, would be for us ALL to go about our lives with DRAWN firearms with our fingers on the trigger!! I'd LOVE to see the consequence of THIS!! Or, NOT.

It's simple LOGIC.


Jan. 10 2013 11:27 AM
GW from Queens

The constitution says nothing about jews, christians, the boogy man or space aliens with squid tentacles. These are red herrings. It says nothing about personal safety,
it only speaks about the necessity of a WELL REGULATED, not just regulated, but WELL REGULATED militia being important to a free state ...

don't tell me about the difference between 11 in a million and 12 in a million in a country where we DREAM of numbers of murders that low ... I really cant believe the arguments made by the right on this page ... increadible!

Jan. 10 2013 11:15 AM

First of all, we already have a "well regulated militia", it's called the NATIONAL GUARD!!

Second, If you want to own a gun based on your "interpretation" of the Second Amendment then, that right, like all others is a privilege and a RESPONSIBILITY. You should be required to report for monthly training in order to keep your ability to "defend" as keen as possible. The same is required of the National Guard.

Rights are a privilege of citizenry and come with RESPONSIBILITIES!!

Gun ownership is NOT A DAMN FREE-FOR-ALL!!

Jan. 10 2013 11:14 AM
gary from queens

Harvard Study: Gun Control Is Counterproductive

by The American Civil Rights Union (ACRU)

ACRU is “a conservative civil liberties advocacy group”. “It was founded in response to views that the most prominent civil liberties organization, the American Civil Liberties Union, was too leftward leaning.”

Jan. 10 2013 11:13 AM
michele from Westchester

Please explain WHY the rationale, contents and implementation of laws governing an only potentially lethal weapon (auto) are not also applied to devices whose basic purpose is lethal (guns). It's further inconsistent that the constitutional guarantee of a right to kill is used as some sort of "explanation" for this difference: the guarantee would seem to actually make it MORE clear that these two objects warrant identical treatment and for the same reasons.
ALSO: Having the same laws and implementing them properly would seem to improve the economy in at least two ways.
1. Police work would be reduced, thus reducing costs. The tracking your guest describes sounds like a lot of work with a typical small to nil outcome. Police, as schools, seems strapped for funding. Wouldn't this help?
2. The insurance industry would boom even beyond its current dimensions, adding to the overall economy, when each and every gun must be covered as with autos. Don't forget: all contingencies would have to be underwritten, as with a loaned/stolen/lost car as well as covering when the other guy has no insurance to cover damage they caused.

One additional point: One possible aid in getting gun owners to rethink their position away from NRA propaganda points could be to use the education strategy Eisenhower used to get locals to fully comprehend what had been happening at German concentration camps nearby: they had to clean up those facilities. In this case, I would say a requirement of owning a gun is to be part of a local bucket brigade on call to clean up the blood and gore at the scene of a shooting, as well as doing "community service" as at least a companion, involved in the rehab of those who manage to survive shootings. The local gun owners can take shifts so everyone gets to experience the range of victims' experiences, for as long as it takes a victim to get to what medical professionals consider status quo.

Jan. 10 2013 11:12 AM
gary from queens

This article explains the high homocide rate in the UK and europe and Russia.

Homocides dont disappear when guns disappear. People resort to other weapons.

But women and old people do not carry knives for protection from gangs or muggers. And there's a simple reason:

A knife is a poor equalizer in a struggle between a weak person and a stronger attacker.

So the homocide rate in countries with gun bans reflects more victims than criminals.

By contrast, a good percentage of homocides in the US would reflect guys killed because of the equalizing effect of guns, even if you ignore the bad guy vs bad guy shootings.

Furthermore, guns can have dial locks to prevent anyone other than the owner to shoot them.

You can't do that for kitchen knives and baseball bats.
Doctors' kitchen knives ban call
Doctors say knives are too pointed
A&E doctors are calling for a ban on long pointed kitchen knives to reduce deaths from stabbing.
A team from West Middlesex University Hospital said violent crime is on the increase - and kitchen knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings.

Jan. 10 2013 11:11 AM
MC from Manhattan

Why is first clause of 2nd Amendment ignored?

It is the elephant in the room ... it is ignored because it is inconvenient. It is the truth, it IS the ACTUAL law. not the fantasy that these gun people cling to. It's ignored because it is sensible, and it undermines all of the NRA'S AND the gun nuts arguments.. if they could erase that clause they would but they cant so they ignore it and hope we all get caught up in their paranoia and forget what we just read. That is why they NEVER quote the FULL amendment

Jan. 10 2013 11:08 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

D boy, you make perfect sense, except for your last comment. "NONE OF US SHOULD OWN FIREARMS!!" There are already too many guns owned by the "bad guys"

Conceal and carry, is another issue but if you are a law-abiding citizen - a cab driver, a bodega owner, or a diamond merchant - you should have the right to get a gun easily.

Many citizens, living in suburban and rural counties, do not have the luxury of a NYPD squad car being two minutes away.

Jan. 10 2013 11:08 AM
gary from queens

comparisons to other nations, such as the UK, does not support the efficacy of gun bans.

Every nation in the world has not experienced a lower homocide rate following laws to ban guns.

In the UK for example, in which you cited, the year in which it instituted a gun ban (1997), the homocide rate was 11.5 per million. In the years that followed and currently, the rate rose to between 12 to 18 per million.

But that aside, you are just talking about killings. killings don't provide the answer we want. As Dirty Harry said, "there's nothing wrong with a little shooting, so long as the right people get shot."

And as I said before, the gross number of deaths in the US you people keep citing says little. As a society, we don't care when drug gangs slaughter each other. Or when a law abiding citizen shoots a mugger or robber. We only rightly care when innocent people are shot or killed. that includes cops and children of course.

Therefore, the so called "gun violence" stats are irrelevant. it measures nothing we care about. We care about CRIME. What kind of crime? Where guns are involved, we care about VIOLENT CRIME.

So the question you need to ask, if you want to compare the US to other nations, is this: is there less violent crime in other nations?

The answer is no. The US ranks somewhere in the middle, among all other nations, with respect to violent crime rates.

Look at pages 2 through 5 of this pdf file:

To roughly get the violent crime totals add robbery, sexual incidents, and assaults.

So as you can see, the US is not the violent crime capital as you seem to think.

One reason that the US violent crime rate is as low as it is may helped by states with gun carry permits. Those states help bring down the average. States with gun bans on law abiding citizens have the highest rates.

more examples: violent crime following gun laws in DC and Chicago

Jan. 10 2013 11:07 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ dboy
They were NOT legally owned by the killer. He murdered his mother to obtain the weapons.

Of course, the mother was nuts to have guns accessible to her metally ill son - given that she was aware of his problems.

Jan. 10 2013 11:06 AM

RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey~

Thank you!

Jan. 10 2013 11:05 AM
gary from queens

Iran and Egypt are democracies. Many Muslim majority nations look the other way when christians are massacred. the Christians are not permitted to be armed. i would say the same for Jews, except all the jews have been driven out of those countries.

Jan. 10 2013 11:04 AM
Mike from Tribeca

gary from queens -- Perhaps it's slipped your mind that all of the regimes you mention went out of business years ago?

Jan. 10 2013 11:03 AM


Jan. 10 2013 11:03 AM about when a "mentally sound" gun owner decides to have a drink??

Jan. 10 2013 11:03 AM
GW from Queens

The idiot excuse that "criminals wil not follow the law " is just that idiotic. Of course criminals take a chance and break the law. A law abiding citizen follows the law. We don't give up on laws that criminalize child abuse because child abusers break that law any way... gun nuts wil go to any degree of idiot logic to justify their fetishes.... the fact that you can deconstruct their logic so easily just shows how much they know that their arguments are weak... and their case illegitimate and like a previous commenter said they are not part of a well regulated militia and thus illegitimately bear and keep arms.

Jan. 10 2013 11:03 AM
Ron from Manhattan

Hi. Two issues: 1. Why is first clause of 2nd Amendment ignored? It says "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. Why can't the government say gun owners must register as members of WELL-REGULATED Militia? 2. Why hasn't gun control been addressed as public health issue? Article in today's NYT says that US gun homicide rate for Americans in their 50's is 20 times higher than other developed countries!!

Jan. 10 2013 11:02 AM
Tony from Canarsie

To improve the quality and sanity of political discourse, I recommend the implementation of a nationwide internet troll registry.

Jan. 10 2013 11:01 AM

As to the Utah gun kook caller:

The weapons that Adam Lanza used to slaughter 20 6yo children were LEGALLY owned!!

Jan. 10 2013 11:00 AM

Spend any time at a laundromat, the locker room at your local YMCA or in the NYC subway system and you very quickly realize there is a broad range of "acceptable" personal hygiene. It doesn't take much imagination to extrapolate that the same logically applies to mental hygiene.

THIS is why everyone should NOT be permitted to to carry a loaded firearm!! Or, own a military grade assault weapon.

Furthermore, is it really necessary to point out the fact that mental health is fluid?? Life circumstance can VERY easily slide someone into the danger zone. A "responsible" gun enthusiast is a pink slip away from being a mass murder.


Jan. 10 2013 10:58 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Every other fundamental "right": freedom of speech, private property etc. is regulated - the right to bear arms, something I believe in, should be no different.

Jan. 10 2013 10:57 AM
The Truth from Becky

You don't need an assault weapon to defend yourself OR hunt annnd if the "bad guy/girl" catches you off guard you won't make it to your "I have a permit for my, empty locked in a safe, bullets on the top shelf of my closet" weapon anyways!!

Jan. 10 2013 10:57 AM
Beth from Brooklyn, NY

What counts as mental illness? Depression? Post-partum depression? If somebody is mentally well when they purchase a gun, and then becomes mentally unwell, will you advocate taking the guns away at that point?

Jan. 10 2013 10:56 AM
MG from Manhattan

If you are NOT part of a WELL REGULATED Militia as the Constitution states, you do not have the right to keep and bear arms. Period I can read can you ? Go get the second amendment and look at what the founders intended . Its right in your face.

Jan. 10 2013 10:56 AM
gary from queens

look at the states in the US.

Some have carry permits and others don't. It's a perfect way to compare cohorts, because everything else is equal and what you want it to be.

For example, lawful gun owners cannot carry their guns into states that have no carry or conceal laws. But criminals do cross over into those states. So what we have are bad guys with free choice to be in any state with their gun, and lawful gun owners only in some states but not others.

Next, what data do you compare? You dont compare "gun violence" or deaths from guns. Why? Because to measure the efficacy of lawful owners freely carrying guns, you must measure how well lawful citizens fare in each state WITH RESPECT TO CRIME! Duhhhh! Because that best tells you how safe lawful people are in that state.

For example, we dont care to measure the deaths from gang wars (bad guy vs bad guy). And we don't even want to measure only good guys who shot bad guys. Because we have no proof the bad guys were really bad, or even acting bad at the time of the shooting. (i.e. Maybe it was a dispute between the two.)

The best way to show efficacy of carry laws is to measure CRIME statistics. And only violent crime. WHY? Because a gun is most often necessary to COMMIT such a crime, and also to PREVENT such a crime (ie rape, murder, assault, mugging, robbery, but not burglary).

And here is where the data supports carry permits. Because John Lott's and other studies are unassailable:

In states with easy to obtain carry permits, violent crime is SIGNIFICANTLY lower. THAT is what we want to know, and that is what we get-----the safer states to reside in are states that allow lawful residents to carry guns.

Maybe it's a deterent, and maybe it's resulted in criminals getting shot, or getting away with their lives. either way, the crime cant be committed.

We can also measure burglaries too, in states that permit guns in the home vs those which dont. here again, Lott's numbers are significant.

I rest my case. More Guns, Less Crime. which happens to be the name of his book!!

Jan. 10 2013 10:56 AM

The second 2 words of the Second Amendment are "well regulated". Why is not part of this endless discussion about guns in this country?

Jan. 10 2013 10:55 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

The gun industry can sell only so many guns to licensed enthusiasts.

Because guns, especially hand guns, unlike cars, do not depreciate, the gun industry needs illegal gun sales to criminals - both domestic and abroad, to survive.

Illegal gun running is not an after-thought, it's a critical business model. Most guns, responsible for murders in the US, were owned illegally.

Make registration mandatory. Make it easier for law abiding citizens to own hand guns.

Jan. 10 2013 10:52 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

Gary from Queens - Stop thinking this is about taking away guns. It isn't. The government can work to stem the carnage without taking guns away.

We can license and certify before sale.

We can extend liability to the registered gunowner for the misuse of their firearms.

We can destroy weapons obtained in gun buybacks rather than putting them back on the market.

The firearms companies can develop a safe and effective non-lethal method of taking down an assailant. I would feel far more comfortable issuing that in a school and to security guards rather than a gun.

Rather than try and stall the debate but going on about deaths that you contend happen because the populace was disarmed (?), try and add something useful.

What can we do so that 20 K+ first graders are not shot to death by an armed miscreant?

Jan. 10 2013 10:51 AM
gary from queens

if liberals favor gun control, why do they oppose its enforcement by stop and frisking those who commit 90 percent of violent crime----minority youth??

Jan. 10 2013 10:50 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

You didn't seriously ask why people are rushing out to buy guns, did you?

The foaming at the mouth anti-gun gang is why.

It looks like any reasonable measures will not happen at the mouth foamers are going totally overboard and as result, nothing will get passed.

Jan. 10 2013 10:48 AM
Danielle from Harlem

That guy just used the racially loaded term "Mau Mauing" to describe Obama's possible directives to the government agencies to enforce laws, and Brian did not say anything!

Jan. 10 2013 10:48 AM

Ol' gary clearly drank the ludicrous and PARANOID NRA bullsh*t.

Jan. 10 2013 10:47 AM

With 3 D photocopies going mainstream I care about the bullets, not the guns.

Jan. 10 2013 10:47 AM

gary from queens
yes scary gary those things are bad, but unlike those bad bad places we have an ELECTED government. and i won't let those bad things happen here.

Jan. 10 2013 10:40 AM
gary from queens

In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control. From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945, a total of 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated.

China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated

Guatemala established gun control in 1964. From 1964 to 1981, 100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Uganda established gun control in 1970. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Cambodia established gun control in 1956. From 1975 to 1977, one million educated people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Defenseless people rounded up and exterminated in the 20th Century because of gun control: 56 million.

And now, Obama and his islamist friends are going to ban guns through executive order.

Jan. 10 2013 10:37 AM

How can there be any solution while we live in a culture in which parents bring violence (guns, toys, video games, movies, cartoons) into the home?

Jan. 10 2013 10:36 AM
Jim from Brooklyn

Correction: the quote on WNYC's web site says "Out of more than 685,000 stops in 2011, about 770 guns were recovered. That means about one tenth of one percent of all stops result in the seizure of a gun."

The story goes on to say that most of these were outside "hotspot" neighborhoods:

"But those guns are not showing up in the places where the police are devoting the most stop-and-frisk resources.

Using data from the New York City police department, WNYC mapped all street stops by police that resulted in the recovery of a gun last year. The digital map shows an interesting pattern. We located all the "hot spots" where stop and frisks are concentrated in the city, and found that most guns were recovered on people outside those hot spots—meaning police aren't finding guns where they're looking the hardest."

Jan. 10 2013 10:27 AM
Jim from Brooklyn

But those guns are not showing up in the places where the police are devoting the most stop-and-frisk resources.

Using data from the New York City police department, WNYC mapped all street stops by police that resulted in the recovery of a gun last year. The digital map shows an interesting pattern. We located all the "hot spots" where stop and frisks are concentrated in the city, and found that most guns were recovered on people outside those hot spots—meaning police aren't finding guns where they're looking the hardest.

Jan. 10 2013 10:23 AM
Jim from Brooklyn

In this morning’s local newsbreak during the BBC news show (~9:30 AM), in a story on about a proposed crackdown on illegal firearms, WNYC played a soundbite of NY State senator and GOP conference leader Dean Skelos saying that Stop and Frisk takes “thousands and thousands” of illegal handguns off the streets.

The press release on his Web site says"Last year 3,443 illegal guns were seized in New York City alone. Over 10,500 guns were recovered in the past three years."

However, here’s a story from WNYC’s website in July that says: “Out of more than 685,000 stops in 2011, about 770 guns were recovered, most of them from outside Stop and Frisk “hotspot” neighborhoods. That means about one tenth of one percent of all stops result in the seizure of a gun.”

Something doesn't add up here. I'm not sure Mr. Skelos’s soundbite should be broadcast without more context.

Jan. 10 2013 10:11 AM

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