It has not been a good year for gun makers. Remington filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after its sales fell 27.5% in the first nine months of Donald Trump’s presidency. (Its officials had expected a 2016 Hillary Clinton victory and a burst of gun purchases). Sales have been ragged across the industry. Gun company stocks have slipped, profits have fallen, price wars are breaking out, and corporate debt is on the rise. January 2018 was the worst January for gun purchases since 2012. (A mere 2,030,530(!)firearm background checks were logged that month, down by 500,000 from the same month in 2016). It was the “Trump slump” in action.
“Fear-based” gun buying is no longer buoying the industry. After each shooting atrocity there have been spikes in gun sales. But after last October’s Las Vegas slaughter in which 58 died and hundreds were wounded, they sank by 13% compared to October 2016. Recent atrocities, such as at Parkland school, Florida, haven’t helped sales.
Fear and and guns. Gun sales have been driven by white men who are “anxious about their ability to protect their families, insecure about their place in the job market, and beset by racial fears”. A gun feels to them like “a force for order in a chaotic world,” though such owners are significantly more likely to use a gun in their home to kill or wound themselves or a family member than a burglar, intruder, or anyone else. They are also more likely than non-gun-owners to take an active part in politics. (heavily edited version of an article in Tom Dispatch 4/15/2018)
America is filled with guns that have the power to rend flesh in ways that fit war, not the home. Fear is the driver. To be “great” requires a nation that is confident, secure, well- informed and reasonably united. The United States has had its century as a Great lPower, and has wasted its resources on the military and endless wars, instead of education and socisl cohesion. There are parallels with ancient Greece and Rome. Epicurus would recognise it – the decline of social cohesion and democracy and futile, destructive war that partly drove his desire for moderation.