A Momentous Anarchic Event: The 2008-2009 Great American Gun Buy

Column by Paul Bonneau.
Exclusive to STR
Anarchy is often all around us, yet we do not see it. Perhaps we have been conditioned by the state propaganda organs too well. One recent event, perhaps the most significant anarchic event ever, was the huge ramp-up in sales of military-pattern rifles starting on Obama's election in November 2008 and tapering back down to normal in the summer of 2009--although ammunition shortages continued until just recently. Some stories noted the number of firearms purchased by Americans in the first 3 months of 2009 were enough to equip the two largest armies in the world, the Chinese and Indian armies! The NRA wrote in March of this year that 22 percent of all rifles made in the US in 2008 were AR-15s, never mind the AK-47 and other military rifles sold, and that the total number of AR-15s in the country should exceed 2.5 million.
There has been a lot of speculation why this happened, and I don't want to get too much into that here, except to note that it was not orchestrated. No organization I have heard about went out telling people to buy (we can be sure the media would make a stink if there were), and anyway the buyers were largely new to firearms and therefore not reachable by a typical pro-gun interest group. Ordinary people, on their own, decided it would be prudent to arm themselves with AR-15s, AK-47s and pistols. This is one point that makes this event anarchic--the movement was leaderless.
Another anarchic indicator is the prominence of non-compliance or non-cooperation. Most commentators thought that the buy was driven to a large extent by the perception that Obama planned to ban military pattern firearms (reinstating and enlarging the Clinton "assault weapon" "ban" by using his substantial Democratic majority in Congress). If one thinks a thing is going to be banned, how much sense does it make to go out and buy one? Of course, one might think that only new production is to be banned; but if that happens, the existing guns are grandfathered in and still available, although perhaps at increased prices. Yet during the "panic" buying, prices rose anyway, so fear of future high prices does not seem to be a plausible reason for everyone to go out and buy. No, people bought despite the expectation that government would at some point attempt a confiscation; and we can be confident they were not about to turn in something they had just gone out and bought. Non-cooperation is clearly a big factor here.
Yet another point is the rejection of the state's alleged role in protection. The many new gun owners were saying to the state, in effect, "I don't need your protection; I'll do it myself. In fact, you may be who I'm protecting myself from." A blow to the state's protection racket by Do-It-Yourselfers also makes this an anarchic event.
Finally, one has to ask why the Obama regime has not advanced gun control as expected, and in fact has rolled it back to some extent (e.g., the bill allowing concealed carry in national parks). Why was Bush much worse for gun owners than Obama? Why didn't Obama clamp down on the "bitter clingers"?
I suspect the answer is fear. The ruling class observed the boom in sales, which was a clear message to them, something on the order of, "Don't mess with us!" And they got the message. This factor also has anarchic implications.
All of this is merely a part of a larger picture in which military rifle sales have been increasing for years. When I first started going to gun shows, military rifles were usually a very small percentage of those offered (outside of some antiques). When Clinton got his "ban" passed, all of a sudden AR-15s, M1As, FALs and AK-47s started showing up in large numbers on the tables. Both Clinton and Obama have been fantastic salesmen for military rifles. Other trends such as the spread of concealed and open carry also display anarchic characteristics, including especially those people who now carry without government permission (although they are of course, uncountable).
(By the way, the Clinton "ban" wasn't much of one. I call it the "flash suppressor ban" because AR-15 manufacturers responded to it by shipping guns without suppressors and bayonet lugs--while selling many more guns than previously.)
These people may not think of themselves as anarchists, but they appear to be acting more and more like anarchists, at least in some respects--despite hand-wringing by the Ministry of Propaganda over these trends.

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Paul Bonneau's picture
Columns on STR: 106


B.R. Merrick's picture

So this article is by Strike and not Paul Bonneau?

Either way, this stuck out from the rest for me:

"Ordinary people, on their own, decided it would be prudent to arm themselves with AR-15s, AK-47s and pistols. This is one point that makes this event anarchic--the movement was leaderless."

I like to read that. It makes me think of one of the three criteria for freedom to be successful:

1. It must be peaceful
3. It must have the distinct lack of a charismatic leader.

A leaderless, individual decision, happening spontaneously for numerous individuals all at once. Beautiful.

Paul's picture

It occurs to me the current trend to buy silver and gold (people forsaking their fiat currencies for the real stuff) is also a significant anarchic trend. Also leaderless, also a slap in the face of the state, and also includes a significant fraction of the population.