If the apocalypse were at hand, one sign might be a burst of activity at Dunkelberger’s, a sports outfitting establishment in Stroudsburg, Pa.
Dunkelberger’s, like other purveyors of guns and shooting gear across the country, has experienced a boom in business this autumn the like of which Tim Strunk, a store employee for 23 years, has never before seen.
“It is through the roof, absolutely,” he says. “Assault rifle-style guns, the black guns, are doing especially well.”
Strunk attributes the buying spree partly to a “feeling that the end of the world is coming,” a foreboding perhaps reflecting end-times predictions from the Mayan calendar, among other sources. “The Doomsdayers are stocking up,” Strunk says.
But the greater cause of anxiety, he adds, “is the presidential election, and the fear that gun regulations will be changed” by a second-term Barack Obama.
To many gun-rights activists, those two phenomena – Obama’s re-election, and the apocalypse – amount to the same thing. “Obama is coming right at us,” warned David Keene, president of the National Rifle Association, soon after the election. “This will be an all-out assault on the Second Amendment.”
Obama’s personal disposition on the matter of guns was revealed in his famous “bitter clingers” remark during the 2008 campaign. Less remarked upon was his assertion just a few weeks ago during the second presidential debate that, if re-elected, he hoped to “get an assault weapons ban reintroduced.”
The common wisdom in Washington insists that gun owners’ fears are unwarranted – Obama pushed no gun control agenda during his first term, and the political arithmetic suggests any such effort in a second term would be doomed. An indication of the political toxicity of gun control was suggested by Newsweek reporter Daniel Klaidman in his 2012 book about Obama, “Kill or Capture.” After Attorney General Eric Holder said publicly that Obama meant to reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons (which expired in 2004), Klaidman reported, Rahm Emanuel, then Obama’s chief of staff, conveyed the message that Holder should “shut the f--- up.”
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, of California, the author of the original ban, would plainly like to see it reinstated; but she failed to introduce any such legislation in the current congressional session, and has not publicly indicated an intention to do so in the next. Given congressional Democrats’ apparent lack of appetite for the issue (even after the Gabby Giffords and Colorado theater shootings), a push for new gun control legislation does not seem likely any time soon.
Some gun-control reformers see a too-violent society, and imagine the American gun owner – Obama’s embittered clinger -- as culprit. The reality is starkly different. At Dunkelberger’s, Tim Strunk has noticed something unexpected about the customers rushing to buy guns, many of them first-timers. “There are a lot of young people,” he says. “And women.”