By Dave Workman
Nine rocky months into the Donald Trump administration has produced some discouraging news for the gun industry, according to CNN Money and the New York Post.
Dick’s Sporting Goods stock “plunged” a couple of weeks ago when earnings didn’t measure up to the forecast. And the bad news didn’t just stop at Dick’s.
Bass Pro Shops in mid-August reported that hunting sales have been down, according to the New York Post. But the newspaper noted that financially troubled Gander Mountain, a major outdoors rival, had flooded the marketplace over the past 90 days, selling merchandise at bargain prices that included ammunition “discounted 40 percent and apparel discounted 50 percent.”
Trump’s election may have been good for gun owners in the political sense because Democrat Hillary Clinton definitely had gun owners in her sights. That may have been what shot holes in her campaign, but also translated to lethargy among those same gun owners who no longer feel a sense of urgency.
What does this mean for the merger of Bass Pro and Cabela’s? At this writing, it appeared the sale was still in the works, but that apparently includes Cabela’s ability to gain approval from the Federal Reserve to sell its credit card business to an outfit called Synoyus Financial Corp. by Oct. 3.
Sales have also been off for Sturm, Ruger, according to CNN Money. In early August, the company reported declining gun sales during the last quarter, CNN said. Ruger stock fell at the announcement.
According to the FBI’s monthly report on background checks, activity was down in July from the same month last year, and from the activity for each month from January to June this year. The raw total of background checks in July were 1,742,546.
But the National Shooting Sports Foundation pared that down a bit with its adjusted count that reflects more closely the NICS checks related to firearm purchases in its weekly online newsletter Bullet Points. That number was estimated at 907,348, a decrease of 25.1 percent from the NICS check figure in July 2016. That month, the NSSF-adjusted background check estimate was 1,210,731 (the raw NICS check figure for that month was 2,197,169, according to the FBI.
There is “collateral damage” in this reported sales decline, and that’s to state fish and wildlife agencies via the Federal Aid to Wildlife Restoration program, also known as Pittman-Robertson. According to NSSF’s recent Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax Collection report, “manufacturers reported tax liabilities of $183.2 million in the first calendar quarter of 2017, down 11.9 percent over the same period reported in 2016.”
Wildlife management has enjoyed a revenue boom over the past eight years while Barack Obama was in office. That’s because people were buying guns and ammunition at a feverish pace. That meant more money to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which administers Pittman-Robertson, the special federal excise tax on guns and ammunition and hunting/shooting related items. That’s millions of dollars the states won’t be receiving when USFWS announces its apportionments of the revenue for 2018.
Some of that money goes to hunter education and range development projects.
Things might get a bump, though, heading into the hunting season, followed by the holidays. Traditionally, December gun sales get a boost over previous months, and sales in the months of October and November are typically up from the preceding summer months.
Speaking Of Gun Sales
Finally, after waiting more than a year, the City of Seattle provided this reporter with its 2016 revenue from its controversial “gun violence tax.”
As Insider Online reported recently, I sued the city along with the Second Amendment Foundation, which owns TheGunMag.com, where my day job includes being senior editor.
When the anti-gun city council adopted the “gun violence tax” more than two years ago, they projected that it would raise between $300,000 and $500,000 annually. Guess again, because the actual revenue figure was $103,766.22.
If the city council thought this would be a windfall, they must have been smoking some of that weed they legalized in Washington a few years ago. When the tax took effect, one of the city’s two big gun dealers picked up and moved to a different city, taking the revenue and his customers — and their money — in the process. The other big gun dealer reported plummeting sales and had to lay off a couple of employees. He’s looking to relocate outside the city.
While I won, a move to crush the lawsuit by the National Rifle Association, Second Amendment Foundation and National Shooting Sports Foundation failed. The state Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that the gun tax was legal, despite a strongly-worded state preemption law adopted back in 1983 and amended in 1985.
Meanwhile, In Arizona The Courts See The Law Differently
The Arizona Supreme Court recently ruled that an ordinance adopted in the City of Tucson that allows the local police department to destroy seized handguns is illegal under several state laws.
The high court cited a 2013 statute that requires police to sell seized handguns to firearms dealers.
The Arizona Supremes referred to state preemption that prevents local governments from adopting “any ordinance, rule or tax relating to the transportation, possession, carrying, sale, transfer, purchase, acquisition, gift, devise, storage, licensing, registration, discharge or use of firearms or ammunition,” according to the Arizona Daily Sun.
By no small coincidence, Washington State’s preemption act also prohibits local municipalities from adopting local laws on guns, “including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components. Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law…and are consistent with this chapter.”
This is what one can expect when liberal activists are elected to one court, and not so much to another court in a different state.
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