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Does a Broke America Mean an Armed America?

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As the economy continues its downward plunge, here’s an unsettling piece of information: More Americans are buying guns. Either that, or gun owners are making more purchases.

Do these people know something I don’t? Like, can we shoot our way out of a recession?

Kidding aside, there appears to be a measurable correlation between economic doom and gloom and gun ownership. A bad economy begets, not only fears about our own financial stability but also, threats to our personal safety.

And this isn’t a recent trend. According to Ed Tarpy, owner of the Philadelphia area Ed's Gun Shop, it’s an enduring phenomenon.

“We've been in business here since 1965,” said Tarpy, “and when the economy drops, the sales of firearms go up.”

Last year must have been one of the worst on financial record because, throughout the country, gun purchases reached an all-time high. In 2011, 16.4 million background checks were performed on prospective gun owners by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) with 1.5 million requests in December alone -- making it the largest per month total in history. The 2011 figures are an increase of two million over the previous year.

This pattern does seem to square with the psychology of gun ownership. Nothing serves to help you overcome feelings of powerlessness like a .44 Magnum (SWHC). Just ask Travis Bickle.  

Those seeking out firearms in these economic times cite police layoffs to justify their purchases. Despite a drop in the nation’s violent crime rate in the last two years, they feel a nagging sense that their homes are more at risk now for break-ins.

The increase in gun ownership does have one bright spot, however. With higher demand comes a need for supply and that means jobs. States like Montana are reaping the rewards where the firearms industry is now booming and tapping into the massive 82% rate of manufacturing growth of guns between 2010 and 2011 .

Now, if they could just find more qualified machinists to make them.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.