The Numbers Will Tell

August’s NICS Checks Will Show Reaction To House Vote

Here’s the July month-end report from NICS. Sometime later next week, we will see what August checks indicate following last month’s passage in the House of H.R. 1808, which bans so-called “assault weapons” and “large capacity” magazines. Source: FBI National Instant Check System

This time last month, the U.S. House of Representatives, with anti-gun Speaker Nancy Pelosi wielding the gavel and wearing a triumphant grin, passed by a narrow margin a ban on so-called “assault weapons” and original capacity magazines.

The vote was 217-213, and within a few days, we will see whether this was a disastrous move by Democrats and a boon to firearms manufacturers and retailers. Next week will produce the month-end FBI/National Instant Check System (NICS) report with the accompanying “adjusted” number relating to actual gun sales from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

According to the FBI, July’s raw NICS numbers were rather impressive, at 2,404,332, while NSSF said the “adjusted” figure indicating actual sales was 1,279,300 representing a 4.5 percent decline from July 2021, when the “adjusted” number was 1,233,115.

If history is any indicator, my guess is we will see a spike in semi-auto rifle sales, along with ammunition and magazines.

However, this legislation still must get through the U.S. Senate, and according to prognostications from nearly every major news agency, passage simply is not going to happen. The Senate has a 50-50 split, and in order for the legislation to go anywhere, at least ten Republicans will have to vote with Democrats in order to override a filibuster. The smart money at this writing is on the Second Amendment.

Three Senate Obstacles

There are three good reasons this legislation will essentially be DOA in the Senate. Even the New York Times did a headline declaring the measure “doomed.”

First, this is an election year, and Democrats could be vulnerable. They remember what happened in 1994 after their predecessors passed the Brady Handgun Law (1993) and then the Clinton Crime Bill with its 10-year ban on semi-auto rifles and magazines. More than 50 House Democrats lost their jobs, including then- House Speaker Tom Foley, a Spokane moderate who was at the time the most powerful man on Capitol Hill. The lesson has not been lost on Democrats until this year, so maybe it’s time for a devastating rerun. We’ll see Nov. 8.

Second, it is not a sure thing every Senate Democrat will support a ban, especially with 34 Senate seats up for regular election grabs, and two more — Oklahoma and California — are open for special election. Truth be told, the Senate may not be so eager to ban an entire class of firearms, especially the most popular rifle in the U.S. today.

On the other hand, some people think Democrats will actually take some Republican seats. This makes the gun vote crucial in several races. As noted by BallotPedia, “Fourteen seats held by Democrats and 21 seats held by Republicans are up for election in 2022. Republicans are defending two Senate seats in states Joe Biden (D) won in the 2020 presidential election: Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Democrats are not defending any Senate seats in states Donald Trump (R) won in 2020.”

Third, and this cannot be over-stated, even if a ban were to pass, it might not last long thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court. Such a ban would be immediately challenged by every gun rights organization in the country, possibly with multiple legal actions. Heavy hitters in that arena are the Second Amendment Foundation, National Rifle Association, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Gun Owners of America and the Firearms Policy Coalition.

SAF, CCRKBA and FPC are already challenging a ban in Maryland, which the Supreme Court has already granted certiorari. It means the high court is willing to hear the case, but first, the justices vacated the lower court ruling and remanded the case back for further consideration, based on the elimination of the “two-step” scheme that has been used in Second Amendment cases since the 2010 McDonald ruling incorporating the Second Amendment to the states via the 14th Amendment.

Hint: The high court wouldn’t accept a case for review if they planned to rule in favor of the status quo.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation put this comparison chart together,
showing this year’s adjusted NICS data compared to the previous 2 years. Source: FBI and NSSF

Sales Will Signal

August gun sales will send a signal about gun owner turnout at the polls in November, and anybody willing to ignore that and the less of ’94 will do so at his or her peril.

According to NSSF, “July’s figures represent three years straight where background checks for the sale of a firearm have exceeded 1 million (per month). That’s a tremendous milestone, especially taken in light of the actions of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives last month.”

“The House held committee hearings and passed legislation that would ban the most-popular selling centerfire rifle in America – the Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR), along with some models of semiautomatic shotguns and handguns,” NSSF continued. “They did this even after admitting they knew the legislation was unconstitutional and defied U.S. Supreme Court precedent. Law-abiding Americans also voted — over 1.2 million times last month and hundreds of millions of times over the last three years — to remind Congress that Second Amendment rights belong to the people.”

A Special Place

During my recent quest to find a good bullet-powder combination for my .41 Magnum sixguns (yeah, there are more than one in my safe!) it was my good fortune to “discover” a real gem only 45 minutes and one mountain pass from my front door.

Three Forks Ammo and Reloading in the small town of Cle Elum, Washington, is a shop that specializes in ammunition and reloading supplies. There are no gun sales, but they stock all the stuff necessary to make guns go ‘BANG!’

In the middle of my reloading “research,” I ran very low on Hodgdon’s H110. My first trek was to a Cabela’s about 50 miles from my house, where I found bare shelves. Then I remembered Three Forks, a little shop on a corner I had passed a few times on hunting trips, but never had time to stop.

There should be a place like this in every town on the map. I chatted on the phone with manager Chris Eberle, a gent who knows his propellants and ammunition. Upon my arrival one Saturday, we had a great conversation during which I learned this place often gets calls from “the big stores” when they run short of propellants.

As for ammunition, Eberle told me, “If they make it, we put a box on the shelf.” Well, sorta; there were a fair number of empty spots on the shelf where folks ahead of me had found ammunition when they couldn’t find it anywhere else. But those bare spaces were all marked for the ammunition that belonged there.

Three Forks has actually been around for several years, first in a different location and now, for the past few years, in its present spot closer to “downtown” Cle Elum, just off Interstate 90 about 85 miles east from Seattle.

Three Forks Ammo & Reloading is one of those places one should
find in every town in America. Dave was like a kid in a candy store.

Reloader’s Candy Store

From the minute I walked through the door, I felt like a kid in a candy store. Not only did I immediately find a pound of H110, there were enough other powders to keep a reloader happy for a very long time

I spotted propellants from Hodgdon, IMR, Winchester, Accurate and Alliant. However, Eberle told me he hadn’t seen any Alliant 2400 for quite a while, suggesting there are a lot more people like me out there who use that reliable powder.

This place has loading dies for a surprising array of calibers, plus an ample supply of primers.

Eberle said Three Forks is the only exclusive ammunition and reloading supply store in the entire Evergreen State.

The sad fact is people simply cannot find such places anymore. This store took me back many decades, to the era of small mom-and-pop gun shops where you’d find a proprietor or one of his employees to be a reliable gunsmith. There was one such place far south of Tacoma, where I grew up, that had a short range out back for testing rifles and handguns, along with a corral if that tells you anything. I think there’s a fast food place or a condo in that spot now.

Small shops like Three Forks are magical places. I will definitely be going back!
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