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Are Guns & Ammo The New Gold? Why More Americans Are Arming Themselves

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The threat of a U.S. double-dip recession during the Obama era – and the subsequent failure of the so-called "debt supercommittee" – got many ordinary Americans looking at gold as a safe store of value. While not much has changed since then, there's another commodity that has historically risen in price along with gold, and it’s potentially more useful in the event of a global crisis: Ammunition.

One problem with gold: its value can make it hard to trade for day-to-day necessities. Ammunition can readily be converted into food even without trading. There is, however, a downside of ammunition as an investment: it requires a lot of space for storage. Gold too must be stored, but its high price tag means that large amounts of wealth can be stored in a small area. It's even possible to invest in gold without physically holding it although this wouldn't be useful in a crisis where the financial and transportation systems break down.

Some of the fear-based psychological reasons for gold's popularity in times of economic crisis appear to be similar to the reasons cited for purchasing guns and ammunition. Michael Thompson, a small business owner from Virginia, had this to say about why he purchased 2,000 rounds of 223 ammunition to go with his growing collection of AR-15 assault rifles:

"Since ARs are so well-known and widespread, quality ones don't really go down in value. I don't trust what's going on in Washington, and a reliable firearm that'll hold its value, plus ammo that I can always re-sell later if I don't use it up, seems like as safe a place as any to put my money in these uncertain times."

One prominent factor Ammo.com customers have cited in the past as one of their primary reasons for stocking up on guns and ammo was the uncertainty surrounding U.S. firearm regulations. Before Trump took office, many wondered if President Obama's official position on firearm regulation would change during his second term. Other fears included an EPA-proposed ban on lead ammunition due to health concerns and the ongoing debacle surrounding the Department of Justice's failed Fast and Furious sting operation.

Several states have also enacted anti-gun legislation, such as California expanding their controversial gun registry to now include purchasers of new rifles and shotguns – as well as age limitations for purchasing long guns.

Dustin Ramsey, a 28-year-old self-proclaimed "realist" from Tennessee, who says hunting and fishing are two of his favorite outdoor activities, counts the 5,000 rounds of 9mm ammunition he keeps on-hand as one of his investments, along with gold coins:

"I'm a hunter, so I know I can use my guns and ammo to feed my family if something happens to our usual food supply and there's a run at our grocery store. Plus, it seems like somebody on Wall Street is always getting bailed out nowadays, and my faith in the stock market has been gone for a long time. Look, I've seen what happens when times get tough and I figure I can always barter a popular caliber like 9mm for other supplies like I would with gold if push comes to shove. And if a crisis never materializes where I need my stash of ammo, I still love to shoot, so those bullets won't go to waste. Given the uncertainty in our world, ammunition seems more practical to me than gold, whether there's an economic crisis or not."

Whatever their reason, Americans purchased firearms and ammunition - along with items like gold detectors - in record numbers during Obama’s presidency. USA Today recently reported that the FBI experienced their single largest number of background check requests ever in a single day on Black Friday, smashing the previous record. Background check requests are processed by the FBI, according to federal law.

A Gallop poll in 2017 reported that gun ownership has remained high post-Obama, with 42 percent of American households admitting they owned a gun. A 2018 study found that there are more guns than people in the U.S.

These statistics, coupled with customer feedback at Ammo.com, indicate more Americans are taking advantage of their constitutional right to own a firearm – and are arming up in increasing large numbers.

Infographic: Are Guns & Ammo The New Gold?
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Brian Miller
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Brian Miller