More guns were sold in December than almost any other month in nearly two decades, continuing a pattern of spikes in sales after terrorist attacks and calls for stricter gun-buying laws, according to new federal data reported by the New York Times. The heaviest sales last month, primarily handgun sales, came after a call from President Obama to make it harder to buy assault weapons after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Ca. Fear of gun-buying restrictions has been the main driver of spikes in gun sales, far surpassing the effects of mass shootings and terrorist attacks alone.
During the previous record month, December 2012, President Obama called for new buying restrictions after the mass shooting at Newtown, Ct.’s Sandy Hook Elementary School. “President Obama has actually been the best salesman for firearms,” Brian Ruttenbur of BB&T Capital Markets said last month. The federal estimates, based on data first reported in 1998, undercount total sales, because some sales are not recorded in states that do not require background checks for private sales. The dynamic is a Catch-22 for gun control proponents: Pushing for new restrictions can lead to an influx of new guns.