Newsletter: Gun Sales Should be Rising. They Aren’t.

The 2024 election is less than six months away, and the incumbent President is pushing for a sweeping ban on the sale of many popular guns. This should be driving gun sales up. But it isn’t.

In fact, gun sales in March were down not just from 2020’s record levels but even from last year. They’ve even fallen behind several pre-pandemic years. I examine why that’s so surprising and what might be causing it.

The NRA was back in court this week, but this time they managed to secure some legal protection for their members from the ATF’s pistol-brace ban. A new study out of Colorado finds the state’s “red flag” law is used less often in “Second Amendment sanctuary” jurisdictions. Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman also explains in a piece for members how Colorado and Washington got cold feet about joining other Democratic states in passing severe new gun-carry restrictions.

We discuss these stories in depth on this week’s New Update podcast, which is available now on your favorite podcasting app or YouTube. Plus, Cam Edwards of Bearing Arms joins the main show to explain what Glenn Youngkin vetoing a slew of gun bills means for Virginia politics.

Customers examine pistols on sale at a 2023 Virginia gun show
Customers examine pistols on sale at a 2023 Virginia gun show / Stephen Gutowski

Gun Sales Fall in March
By Stephen Gutowski

Americans bought fewer guns in March 2024 than they did last year, and sales even fell below pre-pandemic levels.

Last month, an industry analysis of the number of FBI background checks found that 1,442,061 were related to gun sales. That’s down 7.4 percent from the previous March, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). It’s also behind March 2022, 2021, 2020, 2018, and 2013.

Click here to read more.

An attendee examines a pistol optic at SHOT Show 2024
An attendee examines a pistol optic at SHOT Show 2024 / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: Why Haven’t Gun Sales Rebounded? [Member Exclusive]
By Stephen Gutowski

The first three months of 2024 saw gun sales fall behind the same period last year in a surprising reversal of fortunes for the industry. Why has it happened, and what does it mean?

March 2024 saw 1.4 million gun sales, according to an industry analysis of background checks. That sounds like a lot, and it is. But it’s actually down 7.4 percent from March 2023, which was itself down from March 2022, which was down from March 2021, which was down from March 2020.

January and February’s numbers tell the same story.

The gun market is still searching for a floor after pandemic-era highs. It’s now a search well into its fourth year. Each time the market appears to stabilize, a few months go by, and the bottom drops back out.

If you’re a Reload Member, click here to read more. If not, join today for exclusive access!

An NRA logo on the podium at the 2024 Great American Outdoor Show
An NRA logo on the podium at the 2024 Great American Outdoor Show / Stephen Gutowski

Ruling: Millions of NRA Members Exempt From Pistol Brace Ban
By Stephen Gutowski

The ATF can’t go after NRA members over guns with pistol braces on them.

That’s the outcome of a preliminary injunction issued by a federal judge on Friday. US District Judge Sam A. Lindsay sided with the gun-rights group and enjoined the federal agency from enforcing its rule reclassifying pistol-brace-equipped guns as short barrel rifles (SBRs) under the 1934 National Firearms Act (NFA). The decision keeps any NRA member who owns a braced gun from facing six-figure fines or imprisonment if they didn’t register their gun by last year’s deadline–something most owners didn’t do.

Click here to continue reading.

Lights illuminated on a police car
Lights illuminated on a police car | Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

Study: Colorado Second Amendment Sanctuary Counties Less Likely to Use ‘Red Flag’ Law
By Jake Fogleman

The rate of “red flag” petitions and approvals is far lower in Colorado counties that have declared themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries” than in the rest of the state.

Those are the findings of a new study released Monday in JAMA Network Open from a team of researchers with the University of Colorado School of Medicine Firearm Injury Prevention Initiative. It examined civil court documents for each instance Colorado’s Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law was used from January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2022. It found that across the state, ERPO petitions were less likely to be filed, less likely to be initiated by law enforcement, and less likely to be approved by a judge in self-declared sanctuary counties than in non-sanctuary counties.

Click here to read the full piece.

Podcast: Youngkin Wipes Out Slate of Virginia Gun-Control Bills (ft. Cam Edwards)
By Stephen Gutowski

This week, we’re examining the implications of Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (R.) vetoing 30 different gun-control bills.

Joining us to do that is Cam Edwards of Bearing Arms. He has long been one of the top pro-gun analysts out there. He also happens to live in Virginia, like me.

So, he has paid special attention to the fight over guns in Virginia. Not just this year either, but for the last several election cycles. He argued the dynamics at play during this year’s legislative session were pretty surprising.

Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I discuss President Biden’s approval on guns falling below 30 percent.

You can listen to the show on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here. Video of the show is available on our YouTube channel.

Concealed carry holsters on sale in July 2022
Concealed carry holsters on sale in July 2022 / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: Shall-Issue States Lose Appetite for Bruen-Response Bills [Member Exclusive]
By Jake Fogleman

Lawmakers in two long-time shall-issue states introduced expansive “sensitive place” restrictions for licensed gun carriers earlier this year. However, their eyes turned out to be bigger than their states’ politics could stomach.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D.) signed Senate Bill 5444 into law on Tuesday alongside a package of new gun-control measures. Beginning this June, it will become a misdemeanor offense to “knowingly possess” a firearm in public libraries, zoos, aquariums, and transit facilities. In a twist, however, the new law expressly exempts those with valid concealed carry licenses from this new prohibition. As such, it essentially amounts to an open carry ban in a handful of new locations.

That’s a significant retreat from what lawmakers initially envisioned for the bill. As originally introduced, the measure would have applied to all gun possession, including licensed concealed carry. It also would have applied to any park or recreational facility where children are likely to be present and all state or local public buildings, in addition to the “sensitive places” that did make it into law.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Colorado watered down their initial proposal even further to advance it.

If you’re a Reload Member, click here to read more. If not, buy a membership today for exclusive access to this piece and hundreds of others!

Outside The Reload

New poll shows Americans still agree on most core American values, including gun rights | AP News | By Gary Fields and Amelia Thomson Deveaux

Safety trumps transparency in Massachusetts gun bill talks | Politico | By Kelly Garrity and Lisa Kashinsky

U.S. Guns Flow Into Haiti as Gangs Push to Take Control | The Wall Street Journal | By Juan Forero and José de Córdoba

The Doctor Will Ask About Your Gun Now | The Atlantic | By Nancy Walecki

Is California’s assault weapons ban on target? | Capitol Weekly | By Brian Joseph

12-Year-Old Detained After Fatal School Shooting in Finland | The New York Times | By Johanna Lemola and Emma Bubola

Nassau County executive plans to deputize citizens with gun licenses to help police in emergencies | CBS New York | By Jennifer McLogan

That’s it for this week in guns.

If you want to hear expert analysis of these stories and more, make sure you grab a Reload membership to get our exclusive analysis newsletter every Sunday!

I’ll see you all next week.

Stephen Gutowski
The Reload

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