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Surprise winner of Obama stimulus spending: gun industry

Police departments are using some of the stimulus money to arm up, helping to make Obama 'gun salesman of the century.'

By Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / September 11, 2009


Many gun-loving Americans are convinved that President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress are bent on ripping rifles from their "cold, dead hands," as actor Charlton Heston once declared at a National Rifle Association meeting.

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But from the perspective of police departments – not to mention gunmakers – the Obama administration may go down as one of the most gun-friendly in history. Across America, police departments are using the taxpayer-funded stimulus bill to boost their arsenals with shotguns, handguns, and assault rifles.

Among the general public, a record 1 million guns were sold across the United States in August alone, rebuffing expectations that, after 10 months, the post-Obama election gun-buying spree would abate. US gunmaker Smith & Wesson on Wednesday reported a 30 percent rise in sales in the first quarter, leading to unexpected profits and a rising stock price.

But as police departments order new firearms using stimulus funds, there's more than a little irony in the fact that a president whom the gun industry looked upon with suspicion has put forward a federal program from which gunmakers are benefiting.

"Gun culture magazines in the '90s named [President] Clinton 'gun salesman of the year,' but I think Obama, without even trying, has become gun salesman of the century," says Brian Anse Patrick, a gun culture expert at the University of Toledo, and author of the forthcoming book "Rise of the Anti-Media."

"One of the largest concerns has been that consumer firearms demand might slow dramatically from Obama-led frenzy levels," Eric Wold, a Merriman Curhan Ford analyst, told the Associated Press this week. "However, not only did consumer sales increase 29 percent, but law-enforcement and international sales jumped 32 percent and 12 percent, respectively."

Take the city of Jeffersonville, Ind. Police there are spending $63,000 of their stimulus bill money to buy 74 new assault rifles for their police cruisers.