So, I would like to talk about guns. I know very little about them. I have shot a few, I know folks who have them and I am in proximity to a couple of them. Here is what I know. There is a virulently strong ethic about owning them. The people that I know are enmeshed in their ownership. They clean them, they fondle them, sometimes they shoot them and a few prefer to keep them in the original collectors box.
Because there are so many varieties and ages of guns it takes a great deal of time and energy to understand the nuances of their different capabilities, requirements and maintenance. It also takes a big time investment to understand the various accessories and in particular the ammunition that is required. I know, for example that the AR-15 was designed for civilians, it comes in two different flavors, one that is able to shoot .223 and one that can shoot either .223 Remington or 5.56 mm NATO ammo. The velocity of the bullets coming out of this gun is such that it will penetrate easily the highest rated Kevlar jacket.
I know that the ammo is steel cored and brass covered, and that when first tested by the military the ammo was disliked because it inflicted “ice pick” type wounds rather than expanding in the body. This meant that too many of the enemy would be able to continue wounded rather than succumbing at once. I suspect that is partly why Mateen, even though he hit over a 100 people, only killed 49 and had to keep going back to make sure his victims were dead.
In any event, I also know that there are an estimated 318.9 million people in the US and I know that President Obama has stated that there are currently enough guns in the US for every man, woman and child to own one. Clearly, not everyone owns a gun and there is a heck of a lot of hoarding going on, for those that do. There are a lot of fearful people out there.
In searching the Internet the most common constellation of ideas I find around this fear phenomenon, is the need for self-protection, the sense that our government will not protect us, or worse, that we will have to protect ourselves FROM the government.
Here is what I postulate. It’s about money. Not the NRA’s or the manufacturers directly. First, and foremost, it’s about our money, and the lack of it. I searched the net today to find gun prices; they have gone up since I last looked. The cheapest I could find ran for around $200, naked, with no accessories or ammo. Many were selling for $1500 or more. I’m sure a real gun aficionado could find a better deal, but I thought the average of prices was around $500-600. Add the extras and ammo, and you might get to $1000.
So, $1000 x $318.9 million is $318,900,000,000, or $318.9 BILLION, lying around in peoples homes.
Guns represent more than anything that collectible that you can sell or trade in an emergency. It’s assumed that they will always go up in value, even though we clearly have a glut on the market. Their sale isn’t always easily traced and isn’t usually counted as income by the owners. The gun market has benefited enormously from the collectibles rage. They are things that can be accumulated, and represent, especially to men, valuation of their life’s accomplishments, even when other methods of counting coup have failed. They are fairly portable, they can be hidden, don’t have to be fed, won’t be subject to eminent domain or the banks’ predations. They are the modern version of the gold coin with more cache.
This market is gonna crash. It doesn’t matter how many times guns sales get pumped up by the NRA, gun manufacturers, Republicans or catastrophes. Guns just aren’t worth as much as we are paying, there is too much of a glut. We just don’t need 2 guns for every baby; one was too much.
So, when we discuss possible ways to reduce the number of gun deaths, like requiring liability insurance everywhere and apply the basis of human threat in the tables, additional across the board taxation of gun sales in order to fund the CDC in gun death reporting, and yearly licensing, the cost to own that gun becomes a lot higher and reduces the value. If I were a savvy gun owner, I’d be thinking how to get out while the getting is good. Change is coming. As soon as we decide it’s no longer cool to own one, and I believe that will happen, guns are going to become doorstops.