A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.
For those who don’t know that sentence, that is the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. This has lately become the most controversial Amendment in the Bill of Rights due to the recent string of mass shootings, in particular the school shooting in Florida.
There has been much reaction due to the school shooting, as would be expected. Some of that reaction came from two corporate businesses: Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart.
Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart have decided to no longer sell assault-styled guns. They also decided to no longer sell ammo or guns to anyone under the age of 21 (it is currently federal law that anyone under 21 cannot buy a handgun). From these two decisions, there will undoubtedly be more reactions from the Left and from the Right. The Left will, in typical fashion, praise the moves, while the Right will, in typical fashion, criticize the moves.
Before we discuss the inevitable, I first want to mention what Dick’s and Walmart are about.
Dick’s Sporting Goods is known for targeting high school athletes with its ads. Their commercials are usually full of kids. It must have felt like a conflict of interest to sell the same gun—the AR-15—that has been used often in school shootings.
Walmart drastically changed the landscape of shopping. They sell everything (just about) and at prices that work for consumers at nearly every economic level. It has become, whether endearingly or not, America’s store.
THE BENEFITS OF THESE MOVES
Concerning these two moves, it will be easy for both sides to exude their rhetoric: hate for guns (Left) and love for guns (Right). Despite the constant yelling, screaming, sign-making, and all around jibber jabber that ultimately takes place on the picket lines of such issues, love and hate for guns isn’t the issue.
The issues concern the fallout and benefit of these moves. For the most part, we will keep these moves in economic perspective. Along with remembering the Second Amendment, keep in mind that the free market economic system is always self-correcting.
A portion of the population will disagree with these two moves and will, instead of buying at Dick’s, buy at Academy or Bass Pro Shop or another large retailer for their sporting goods. The same will go for Walmart. An upset populace will always find a way to appease their anger.
But what are the positives for gun sales? There shouldn’t be too much worry about that. It seems every time a Democrat of any power says something even remotely threatening toward the Second Amendment, conservatives find their way to gun stores. And those are the real winners in this moment.
WHO REALLY BENEFITS?
Walmart and Dick’s are major competitors in the gun and ammo industry. Although they haven’t ended their gun sales, they have made a statement about guns, and it is a statement that some, if not many, will not abide. Those who feel this way are entitled to feel this way as Americans. When major decisions like this are made, it drives consumers into the arms of competitors. It is an unintentional result, but one that is expected.
So it will be the small to medium sized gun and ammo businesses that will truly benefit from this. Their sales will increase and when their sales increase, their businesses will grow. The benefit will actually go toward the American businessman and businesswoman and the American worker. It won’t simply be for the non-descript American worker, but it will benefit the worker who specializes in guns and ammunition. There is a big difference between purchasing from someone who specializes in guns (or any product) and someone who simply knows about guns.
IN THE END: BOTH SIDES BENEFIT
As we have seen in times past, company decisions that have political implications garner mass attention from both sides. Like two years ago when NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio urged New Yorkers not to go to Chick-fil-a because the company opposed same-sex marriage. People all over the nation came out in support of their local Chick-fil-a’s. There are now eight locations in New York City.
The same will happen for Dick’s and Walmart. While people may be upset at the move and boycott these stores to some extent—either on guns and ammo, altogether for a short time, or altogether indefinitely—they will be guaranteed fandom. Parents, teenagers, and others who are in favor of more gun control or perceive these companies as trying to do their part to make the country safer will increase their patronage.
As this happens, the other side of the aisle who disagree with the decisions will take their money and business elsewhere, like Academy and the small businesses.
A quasi-political move from a large company or large companies can create a win-win situation for the entire market. The most powerful way to sell a product is by making consumers believe their purchase is for a good cause. In this specific situation, both sides are sure to believe this.
IT’S GREAT AS LONG AS IT’S NOT RESTRICTED
Guns are still accessible. The AR-15 is still accessible (though for a 10-year period it was not: 1994-2004). There are still gun control laws that must be followed in order to keep weapons out of the wrong hands. That, and ensuring officials communicate properly with each other about people who are potential threats.
What will not help the market and will create a strong political issue for Americans is the government banning assault-styled weapons. The founding fathers assembled the Constitution and its Bill of Rights because it believed citizens of a free State could be self-governing. That didn’t mean that every single person was capable of self-government as we witness from those who commit these mass shootings and other despicable crimes. However, what we are witnessing from Dick’s and Walmart is the very essence of self-government.
The free market enables Americans to self-govern without the need for government intervention. Does this mean laws don’t need to be passed? No. It simply proves that as much as the free market is self-correcting because of people’s purchasing power, the market suppliers are able to help self-correct American society. In the end, it’s Americans correcting America and that should always be the basis of our democracy.