Black Friday 2011 came and went, without much of a sign that there is anything amiss with the American economy. In fact, according to most sources that monitor commercial sales, Black Friday in 2011 set new records over previous years. (1)
Apparently, gun sales in particular surged on Friday, as background checks for gun sales rose to over 129,000 – far surpassing the 97,848 checks of Black Friday in 2008 – the previous record.
Gun dealers, the authorities and citizens organizations are all struggling to understand the trend that shows that more Americans than ever before are exercising their right to bear arms.
On December 2, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms suggested that Americans are turning to guns as an insurance policy against what many are calling a society poised on the brink of anarchy. (2)
Instability and Uncertainty
CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb issued a public statement proposing that American citizens are turning to guns as a last-resort protection against a potential escalation of unrest, violence and eventual social collapse.
The CCRKBA suggests that Americans are buying guns and ammunition in record numbers in response to the economic and social uncertainties that they see every evening on the national news.
"We've seen public safety budgets hacked to shreds by state and local government that have spent themselves into near bankruptcy. Our streets, parks and state capitol buildings have been occupied by anarchists. Europe appears on the verge of financial collapse. Congress is unable to resolve our budget crisis."
Gottleib believes that Americans are simply preparing for the worst case scenario, as they've always done during uncertain times in the past. He implies that many of these new gun owners are thinking in terms of what position they want to be in if society eventually turns into a situation where anarchy rules.
"Sensible people have evidently concluded that it is better to have a gun and not need it, than to need a gun and not have it."
Will You "Need" a Gun?
That statement from the CCCRKBA - an organization that obviously has a vested interest to encourage people to "bear arms" - also implies that there could be a situation in American where families will need to defend their homes and families from thieves and other hoodlums with firearms.
The idea brings to mind an image of a new wild west - a future America where people wear sidearms, and where local gun-toting authorities maintain law and order with bullets and gunpowder, rather than through nationally enforced laws.
The real question is whether such a scenario is one that is realistic, or simply the result of unreasonable panic and wild imagination. Is it possible for local law and order to fail - and for thieves and hoodlums to rule the streets?
If transportation and shipping fails, if the grocery store shelves start turning up bare and municipal services like sewer and water eventually end along with the rest of social services - will neighbor turn against neighbor? Is this what people that are buying guns in droves during Black Friday of 2011 truly fear?
The Signs of Fear
The signal that something was awry actually began years ago, around 2008.
According to a 2009 Marketwatch report, a "remarkable surge" in sales of firearms and ammo started late in 2008. (3) According to the article, guns and ammunition dealers have seen double digit sales, and many of those buyers were actually new buyers.
Lawrence Keane, vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told reporters that, "We are also seeing a goodly number of first-time buyers and firearms safety education courses are filled all over the country."
While average ammunition sales are around 7 to 10 billion a year, Americans bought over 12 billion rounds in 2009. (4)
Many observers believe that the rapid sales - which began immediately after the election of President Barack Obama - reflected a general fear among gun owners, and those that support the right to bear arms, that the government would shortly find a way to remove that right - or at the very least make it extremely difficult to purchase ammunition for those firearms.
A Signal of Future Class Warfare?
A more troubling future that the increased sales may represent is a national gear-up toward class warfare - a potential civil war between the haves and the have-nots.
It isn't difficult to see anger and animosity between social classes in America. Republicans and Democrats, right-wing and left-wing attack each other with increasing vehemence and passion.
According to the New York Times, in 2007, 21 percent fewer Americans lived in middle-income neighborhoods, while 15 percent more Americans live in affluent communities as well as very poor communities.
In other words, the Middle Class continues to shrink, and the gap between the wealthy and the poor continues to grow wider. (5) Meanwhile, the animosity between each side continues to grow - as the wealthy blame the poor for being lazy and inept, and the poor blame the wealthy for corruption and unfair distribution of profits and wealth.
The manifesto of Andrew Berwick, the extremist, white-supremacist Oslo shooter that targeted Muslims in his shooting rampage, included writing where Berwick claimed his goal was to implement a "cultural conservative political agenda." He also promoted attacking those responsible within the government that were responsible for allowing Muslims to take over so many communities in Europe.
In 2010, the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning that authorities recognized an increasing threat from "right-wing extremist groups" in the United States. According to a Politico report, the DHS recognized this increase immediately following the election of President Obama. (6)
"Many right-wing extremists are antagonistic toward the new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of issues, including immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities, and restrictions on firearms ownership and use."
The release of this DHS report, timed specifically at a time when firearm and ammunition sales began to surge dramatically in the United States, paints a very scary picture for the country if the gap between the rich and the poor continues on its current path, and if some major event sparks the increasing fuel of anger that is evident at both ends of the spectrum.