Gun Control: The Economic Symptoms

Uche J. Uwahemu

By Uche J. Uwahemu Given the toxic nature of our ongoing national debate on gun control, it is prudent to tackle an element that is seldom discussed: the economy of the gun business.  So far the debate has largely centered on the Second Amendment right to bear arms. In order to have a successful gun control policy and curb our appetite for guns, we must recognize that there is no one single action that can stop a sick mind from doing evil.  Since we already have many gun control laws and regulations in place with no meaningful ways of controlling gun abuse, maybe we should focus more on managing the delivery of our nation’s mental health services. We should also place more emphasis on the enforcement of our numerous current laws and regulations as well as the economy of gun industry. The typical argument from both the left and right of the debate is falsely based on the right to bear arms, rather than the economy of gun dealings, despite the need for comprehensive control gun policies. The question remains; do the symptoms of our love for guns make us unwilling to deal with them? I dare to say, yes! At the current enforcement rate of 9.4 percent compared to 54.7 percent in 1969, the law enforcement communities are either under the spell of the NRA (National Rifle Association), which is the lobbying and enforcement arm of the big gun manufacturers, or they derive other benefits unknown to the public. I think the main reason for a lack of enforcement is small business retailers and their impact on the revenue stream, which are key components of the business of guns. To sell, trade or manufacture firearms in the United State, you must obtain a federal firearms license from the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives).  According to the ATF and federal firearms licensing center, we had a total of 123,587 active firearms licenses in 2011, compared to 161,927 in 1975.  California has a total of 7,535, second only to Texas with 8,912.   In 1975, federal licenses for destructive devices were 39. In 2011, that number had risen to 462.  Of the 7,535 dealers in California, most are small businesses with the exception of the largest – Wal-Mart. The real debate should be on the economics of guns, especially since our Golden State boasts the highest number of registered weapons. These large numbers translates into sales, employment and revenue for small business license retailers. And, since the US continues to export and import firearms at alarming rates, revenue is at all times high for retailers and manufacturers. Since, the ATF has the power to reduce the number of firearms manufactured or imported into the country, they can enforce the current laws and regulations to impact abuse.
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