Gun Control is about Money, not Safety


Gun Control is about Money, not Safety

By: Todd M. Schoenberger

The argument can be made that the debate about gun control in the United States ended with the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing twenty children in 2012.  If the murders of six- and seven-year boys and girls sitting in a Newtown, Connecticut classroom isn’t enough to move the needle, then what is?

The shooter in the Sandy Hook massacre stormed the school with three weapons: an assault rifle, which can unload 45 rounds per minute, a 10mm Glock, and another 9mm handgun.  The Chief Medical Examiner of Connecticut determined all the victims were killed with the assault rifle, while the 10mm Glock was used by the murderer to take his own life.

Understandably, worldwide response to the Sandy Hook shootings was shock and sadness; and so many others have yet to fully recover and likely never will.  However, one critical topic seems to only return top of mind when we receive news stories about additional mass, or group, shootings:

Gun control.

A key issue in the gun control debate is defining what it means.  For some, the topic is about removing all guns, which prompts historical reflections of when German citizens were banned from possessing weapons following the 1919 Treaty of Versailles.  For others, it’s about thorough background checks and banning high-capacity ammunition magazines.  Add in the political stance, not to mention the second amendment of the United States Constitution, and its easy to see this topic being a very complicated and challenging one to solve.

Chart showing how fewer 18 to 29 year old Americans favour gun control now than did in 2000

Since the Sandy Hook massacre, there has been 2,178 mass shootings, which is defined by the FBI as when the attacker had killed four or more victims in an indiscriminate rampage, and since 2013 this figure now includes attacks with three or more victims.  And, as always, the immediate reaction following these senseless acts of violence results in more and more arguments about gun control.

Those who argue for banning guns, bullets, accessories such as tripods, scopes, cartridges, etc., need to change the narrative to the one issue that matters even more to Americans than safety: Money.  The primary reason why nothing has changed in the form of gun control is because of the cash federal and state municipalities receive in the form of tax revenue in purchases from this list of weaponry.

According to The Firearms Industry Trade Association, guns contributed more than $52 billion to the U.S. economy and generated over $6.8 billion in federal and state taxes in 2018.  Keep in mind, as well, that gun sales have actually declined since President Trump took office, dropping 6.1 percent in 2018 alone, which has negatively impacted tax rolls and forced governments to keep the rules the way they are.

The industry is a juggernaut and if the cash continues to roll into Washington and state capitals, it’s difficult to believe anything materially will ever change in the form of gun control.

Companies in the U.S. that manufacture, distribute, and sell firearms, ammunition, and hunting equipment employ as many as 149,146 Americans and generate an additional 162,845 jobs in supplier and ancillary industries.  Additionally, the jobs pay an average of $50,400 in wages and benefits.

Surprisingly, though, the top five states with the highest average wages and benefits in the firearms industry are Democratic-majority “Blue” states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, and New Jersey; all of which are perceived to advocate for strict gun control rules, but typically fail to pass legislation such as when 15 Democrats voted against a ban on assault weapons in 2013 following Sandy Hook.

Both political parties seem to agree, however, on several key items regarding gun ownership.  It’s the issue of “concealed carry” that offers the biggest divide.  There is nearly a four-to-one difference in Republican-to-Democratic support for allowing citizens to freely carry a gun.

72% of Republicans, or adults who lean Republican, believe that 'concealed carry' should be allowed in more places while only 26% of Democrats do.

This metric should be obvious despite many Americans looking for more regulation in an industry known primarily for generating negative headlines.  A concealed carry policy has little, if anything, to do with commerce; and commerce is necessary to generating tax revenues.

Unless Congress begins taxing intangible items, such as freedom, the concealed carry issue will always win majority support from the GOP and continue to be the bottleneck for any meaningful legislation to pass.

Unfortunately, Americans shouldn’t hold their collective breath waiting for significant changes to occur with gun control.  Nothing major has changed since 2012, with the lone exception being President Trump’s ban on gun add-ons that can dramatically increase the rate of fire known as “bump stocks”; and it’s doubtful the events in Dayton and El Paso—or the next mass shooting—will cause politicians to react any time soon.

Todd M. Schoenberger is a former Wall Street Hedge Fund Manager and the author of No Lie Lives Forever.  He now resides in Upstate New York.

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