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Guns: A Better Buy Than Stocks

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Fears of assault-rifle ban send weapon sales soaring.

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Forget stocks and bonds, the real money's in guns.

The Wall Street Journal reports artillery enthusiasts are stocking up on guns and ammo, not necessarily ahead of widespread civil unrest resulting from our ongoing economic swoon, but as an investment. These trigger-happy speculators are betting President Obama will institute a ban on assault rifles, which would crimp supply and send prices, well, shooting up.

For it's part, the Obama Administration says it has no plans to enact such legislation and supports the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

During the federal ban on semiautomatic weapons from 1994-2004, prices soared. Recent buying has reached almost a frenzied pitch, creating backlogs for popular models and enabling resellers to list certain guns well above suggested retail prices. AK-47s doubled in price between September 2008 and the end of last year.

Ammo, as well, has become a hot commodity. As one supplier said, "[Ammunition] beats the hell out of money markets and CDs. You can double your investment in ammunition in a year."

Equity investors, too, are betting on Americans arming themselves to the teeth. Smith & Wesson (SWHC), maker of Dirty Harry's weapon of choice -- the .44 Magnum -- has seen its stock jump from around $2 per share to over $6 since Inauguration Day. Still, shares are off around 70% from highs seen as recently as late 2007. Sturm Ruger (RGR), another gun manufacturer, has seen a rise of almost 100% in 2009.

As Minyanville's Kevin Depew is apt to say, "These are heady times we are living in." The Journal running a front-page story on buying guns rather than stocks is indicative of just how strange things have become.

Recent volatility in financial markets is driving Americans to seek alternative ways to protect -- and even grow -- their money. And while we're yet to see widespread construction of bunkers, protective trenches or armed militias patrolling the streets, the country is on edge to an extent not witnessed since September 2001.

I mean, pirates are all over the news for god's sake. Pirates!

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