Gun Store Owners: A thankless job

I have a new op-ed up at National Review Online:

It is tough operating a gun shop under harassment from the federal government and unjustified media attacks. But the harassment might soon get a little better, as today the House Judiciary Committee starts marking up a bill by Representatives Howard Coble and Bobby Scott to ease the burden on gun merchants.

According to Justice Department numbers, since Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992, the number of federally licensed firearms dealers in the United States has plummeted by 80 percent. Kmart no longer sells guns, Wal-Mart just recently stopped selling guns at a third of its stores, and tens of thousands of other gun shops have gone out of business. With all the talk of the recent legislative success by gun owners, they have been winning some battles but possibly losing the war. Gun-control advocates may be the ones winning where it really counts. . . .


Anonymous michael fasher said...

In Auckland New Zealand just recently a man with a machetti tried to rob a gun store and ended up getting shot,talk about taking a knife to a gun fight!!!

7/29/2006 4:42 PM  
Blogger Chas S. Clifton said...

And some gun shops go out of business not because of the BATFE and not because of Wal-Mart, but because the owners are clueless about customer service.

See here for examples.

7/29/2006 11:53 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Chas:

Bad service will put a store out of business (and indeed I am happy to accept that a few percent might have gone out of business for that reason), but it isn't going to explain why tens of thousands of stores have suddenly gone out of business. Possibly the rising costs of running these stores due to everything from the Clinton administration to the problems created by the BATFE have raised the costs of the stores and made it more difficult for them to provide the same service at the same cost, but you have to point to something else besides bad service.

Wal-Mart can't explain the shops going out of business because Wal-Mart was going out of business also.

Dear Michael:

Thanks for the note. It was indeed an educational story.

7/30/2006 9:41 PM  
Blogger Chas S. Clifton said...


Certainly I cannot address the nation as a whole. But in my two-county area of semi-rural Colorado, I have seen at least four shops close in the last five years. Of those, one closed due to the owner's death, and the other three could be put down to some combination of under-capitalization and cluelessness about retail business.

There's more to it than hanging up a few holsters on a pegboard and putting on the coffee pot, unfortunately.



8/01/2006 9:55 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear CSC:

Thanks for the note. Unfortunately, these days we no longer have new gun stores stepping up to take the place of those that close, and I think that we have to ask more broadly why that is occurring. When you see these massive drops in the number of FFLs something very serious is happening. Thank you.

8/02/2006 2:10 AM  
Blogger Stone Cold Button said...

i'm about sick of mega-lo-mart and their new gun policy. went to buy the boy a twenny-2 fer his birthday an theyz all sold out. said they ain't gittin no more, neither. i knows fer a fact that our sporting goods store was put out of bizness by wal-mart. were their prices too hi? sure they was! did wal-mart go out of their way to undercut them and force them completely out? sure they did! i stopped byin stuff fer meself at wal-mart long ago. i only use it to git stuff fer the family ifn theyz nuttin else vailbul. i've been hollerin bout wal-mart bein evil fer morn tin years an the rest a yew (speshly gun owners) is bout to see wut i means...wal-mart sux!!

8/02/2006 5:04 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Stone Cold Button:

Wal-Mart per se doesn't bother me. If they can provide goods cheaper than other stores, so much the better for customers. I have no problem with customers deciding for themselves what and where they want to buy. Yet, when Wal-Mart stops selling guns it has a big impact now on where people can buy them.

8/02/2006 5:21 PM  

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