Ruger, NRA turn paranoia into big profits

Idaho State Journal Editorial

In times marked by fear and uncertainty about the economy, one American
company has been cashing in – big time.
Among the top 10 fastest growing companies in the U.S. during 2011 was
Sturm Ruger & Co. It has experienced revenue growth of 24 percent
annually since the recession of 2008 and embraced a profit growth that
defies imagination. Profits in a three-year period have reached 848
percent.
Ruger doesn’t manufacture pills to combat cancer or even lessen
depression. Ruger makes guns. More importantly, it makes small handguns.
In addition to the many quality sporting firearms used for hunting and
target shooting, Ruger makes two pistols that generated one-third of its
total sales during the second quarter of 2011 alone. They were the Ruger
LCP in .380 caliber and the LC9 in 9mm. Both are ultra-light, compact
carry pistols that weigh less than a pound fully loaded and can be tucked
in even a small pocket.
The tiny instruments of death are both popular and profitable.
Last May Ruger launched its “million gun challenge,” in which Ruger
promised to donate $1 to the National Rifle Association for every Ruger
weapon sold from April 2011 to March 2012. Its goal was to sell one
million guns in a year. In July, the company reported that it contributed
$279,600 to the NRA.
If the top two guns in the arsenal of products you offer for sale are
concealed carry pistols, it makes sense to divert some of the profits to
an organization that lobbies heavily for the protection of handgun
ownership and more fervently, pushes the need for everyone to carry a
concealed one.
Tucking a bazooka in your BVDs would be uncomfortable, but a
short-barreled weapon that weighs less than a pound fits nicely into any
wardrobe.
Perhaps that helps explain why guns were such a popular holiday purchase
this year. According to the FBI, more than 1.6 million Americans
requested a required background check to purchase firearms in December
alone. It set a new one-month record surpassing the 1.5 million checks
made in November.
Since background checks don’t reveal the number of weapons purchased, how
many guns were purchased leading up to Christmas remains a mystery.
However, the FBI did say that only about 1.3 percent of the criminal
background checks result in denial.
The National Instant Check System for buying guns took effect in
1998, replacing the Brady Act’s five-day waiting period that fell victim
to extensive lobbying by the NRA. The National Instant Check System is designed to handle
most checks in less than two minutes.
In that two minutes, the system is supposed to determine if the would-be
purchaser has been convicted of domestic violence or a crime punishable by
imprisonment for more than one year, is a fugitive
from justice, is addicted to any controlled substance, or suffers from
a mental illness.
On Black Friday the system of weeding out those who shouldn’t buy a gun was
in high gear with 129,166 background searches.
The FBI said it can’t explain the holiday spike in firearm purchases, but
the NRA had an explanation. The National Rifle Association said the
figures indicate more people feel they need guns for self-defense.
“I think there’s an increased realization that when something bad occurs,
it’s going to be between them and the criminal,” NRA spokesman Andrew
Arulanandam told CNN.
The NRA ought to know. It’s a message they’ve been selling just as hard
as Ruger has been selling easily concealed weapons.
It’s a double-barreled approach to creating a demand for firearms that
seems to be right on target.