Preparing for an election year

| October 9, 2015 | 4 Comments

The Presidential elections are a year away. For those of you who are new to firearms ownership and haven’t gone through an election cycle yet, here’s what you can expect.

Anything related to firearms goes nuts for at least 18 months. Politicians, lobbyists, and merchants will all try to use gun control — or the specter of gun control — to drive their agendas. This will cascade into the government regulatory agencies, and then into firearms training service industry.

In short, everything is going to become more expensive, and it will take longer.

The most unfortunate thing is that the only way to protect yourself from this phenomena is to take part in it. The only difference is when you start to react, not if you react at all.

Election Year Timeline

  1. The anti-gun rhetoric will start. Democrats trying to make a name for themselves will call for a ban on certain firearms, or increased firearms restrictions. Obama has done a great job over the last 8 years of being the world’s best firearms salesman. Hillary Clinton recently announced desires to pass more gun control legislation.
  2. The pro-gun rhetoric will start. I’m a lifetime NRA member, but there’s a point where I have to unsubscribe from their email lists for awhile. Any whisper of gun control will result in a tidal wave of communications, asking for donations and political action.
  3. Guns prices will go up. Firearms prices will increase across the board. Expect “assault” rifle prices to rise between 30% and 75%. I remember when WASR AK-pattern rifles — usually considered the “bottom of the barrel” of the AK world, were selling for up to $650 by the end of 2008 when Obama got elected. The price of the PAP M92 AK47 pistol went from just over $400 to over $700 shortly after Sandy Hook in 2012.
  4. People will buy firearms anyway. Expect crowds at gun stores. Expect swarms at gun shows. Online retail sales are usually your best bet, but you will have to act quickly before guns sell out. I remember trying to buy the M&P Shield in 2013 — by the time I got an email alert stating the pistol was back in stock it was sold out. Even if you place an order, expect delays in order fulfillment. Worst yet, certain sites (looking at you, Palmetto State Armory) will take your money if an item is oversold and not notify you it’s on backorder.
  5. The infrastructure for background checks and permits will be strained. Expect the NICS background check system to become overburdened. People with common first and last names can expect delays, especially if you do not put your Social Security number on your forms. The typical several minutes will bloom to several hours if not days.If you live in a state that requires a purchase permit or LEO sign off, expect even longer delays. One reason is capacity, the other is that if you live in a state that demands a LEO approval you probably are under the same anti-gun political views from point #1. They aren’t going to rush to approve gun-related permits during an election year.Concealed carry permit applications will spike. Unless states have learned from prior election years, these departments will be understaffed.
  6. Ammunition costs will rise, availability will drop. Prices are going to get ridiculous. Practice ammunition for my AK-pattern rifles (you are practicing a lot, aren’t you?) averages about $0.22 a round during non-election years. Prices were as high as $0.75 a round immediately after Obama’s election. That’s a 340% increase.Ammunition prices have just returned to pre-Sandy Hook prices and availability. I remember trying to buy .223 ammunition, with brass-cased ammo selling for $0.70+ per round if you could find it at all. Steel cased ammunition was priced at what you’d normally expect to pay for brass. One of my friends stated it’s possible to buy steel cased 9MM ammunition on demand at big box stores. Finally.However, expect popular calibers to sell out. Manufacturers will have to scramble to meet demand, and it may take them a long time to do so. They will concentrate on popular calibers, which means lesser popular calibers won’t get as much time on the production line and will also become scarce.22LR will become a unicorn, and you will hear fleeting whispers of 500 round bricks selling for $70. Is this true? Maybe, maybe not — the site was out of stock before you could check.
  7. Magazines and accessories will dry up. The ignorant will always pressure for magazine bans based on capacity. Election years cause that boogeyman to rise from the grave, and folks will buy as many magazines as they can afford. This means that the good magazines will sell out at outrageous prices, and lesser quality magazines will also increase in price and then sell out, too.Case in point are the Korean-made KCI Glock magazines. Right now Centerfire Systems is selling 33-round Glock-compatible KCI magazines for $9.99. At the height of the panic they were selling for $39.99 — and would sell out.

    Expect quality holsters to sell out or be on long back orders. Newer gun owners may not appreciate the value of a sturdy, reliable holster and settle on lesser products that are available. After attending hundreds of hours of basic handgun training, I believe the majority of people who show up to class with Uncle Mikes or FOBUS holsters buy their equipment during panics.

  8. Attendance in fight focused training will decrease. I blame this on ammunition cost and availability. I saw this already with QSI Training ; many of the regular students stated they couldn’t afford to shoot multiple classes a year. The cost of ammunition replacement was high, and it was hard to find the ammunition in the first place.

What to do

Living through an election year is like watching someone slide down an icy road and smash into another car. I hope that the driver corrects in time, but the crash is inevitable. The worst part is watching it happen in slow motion, and not being able to do a damn thing about it.

Here are some mitigation strategies I do so I’m not caught waiting or wanting while the insanity is in full swing. Yes, I realize they add to the hysteria of an election year. Yes, I understand this means I am participating in the cycle sooner than later.

  • Buy as much practice ammunition as you’ll need all year by the end of this year. Visit Web sites like AIM Surplus and SG Ammo to purchase ammunition and have it freighted to your home. Slickguns.com notifies me by email when ammunition dips below a price point I’m willing to pay. Be advised by the time you get this email the ammo may already be sold out. But it’s better than constantly checking Web sites.
  • Resist the urge to buy new tools, but if you are going to buy one … buy now. I believe you’re better off practicing with the firearms you have than buying additional ones that may sit in your safe. However, if you know that you will be in the market for a firearm(s) in the next year, go ahead and buy them now. Be mindful of any state laws that put a restriction on the number of firearms you can buy within a certain timeframe. For example, if you live in a state where you can only buy one handgun a month, buy the more popular models first.If you participate in promotional pricing due to your status as a club member, law enforcement officer, military service, or firearms instructor, start buying those now. Expect firearms eligible for promotional pricing to dry up quickly. During the last election cycle the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation had a problem with participating dealers refusing to sell to club members so they can sell at full retail prices instead.
  • Find good instructors now — and book classes with them. Please contact me for suggestions on firearm instructors in your state. Consult our 50 States of Fight Focused Training map. In general, you want instructors who teach fight-focused techniques on outdoor ranges and specialize in civilian training. Ask your friends whom they have trained with in the past.

Unfortunately there isn’t much we can do to halt the hysteria that happens around an election year. All I can do is make you aware of it and share some of the strategies I use to cope until things stabilize again.

Good luck this year :)

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.
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4 Comments on "Preparing for an election year"

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  1. CR Williams says:

    Speaking from an instructor’s point of view with regards to the last point. Many, perhaps most, instructors seem to think that high round counts is what students want. That’s true to an extent because most people new to training don’t understand that a LOT of what is taught can be taught without a lot and sometimes without any shooting at all. Smart instructors will tailor their training and their round count to what can be done and not insist on a thousand rounds for a two-day course in times when so few can afford to shoot that much. Smart instructors will also provide guidelines for students as to how they can maintain and even improve skills after class is over without shooting very much or at all.

  2. kyliewyotie says:

    Great article.

    I’m sharing this with my newish to firearms friends. Great foresight on what to expect.

    Thanks

  3. Cymond says:

    I’ll admit it, I got carried away 4 years ago. Now I have some stuff that I want to sell anyway, but I’m going to wait a few months for prices to rise. Maybe some of you think it’s unethical, but I’m just trying to recover some of what I spent (since firearms instantly depreciate the moment they aren’t “new”). Maybe I can get 90‰ of what I paid.

    • CR Williams says:

      I don’t consider this to be unethical at all Cymond. In fact, I would recommend spacing the sales over time in an effort to clear a little extra as you get closer to and just past the election (depending on who looks to be going through to office). There is nothing wrong with thinking capitalistically about this once you’ve made the decision to sell.

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