While other industries have suffered massive losses during recession-ravaged 2009, the firearms business seems to have had one of its best years in recent memory.
Concerns about personal safety in a crippled economy and worries that Democrats in Washington would limit firearms sales prompted a gun buying frenzy this year, local and national industry insiders said.
"It's ironic that we've experienced what we call the `Obama effect,"' said R.J. Kirschner, founder of Top Gun Training Centre in the Lytle Creek area. "The president has been the most effective economic stimulus for the firearm industry."
The election of President Barack Obama, combined with the congressional dominance of Democrats, led many Americans to
start gobbling up weapons faster than manufacturers could make them in 2009, Kirschner said.
A belief among some conservatives that Democrats would use their leverage to step up regulation of firearms helped drive sales, Kirschner said.
"(Gun buyers are) afraid of regulation," he said. "They want to get a hold of things before it happens.
"(Democrats) haven't made the move yet. They're focusing on health care. It's only a matter of time before they focus on other things."
Richard Pumerantz, president of Ten-X Ammunition Inc. in Rancho Cucamonga, said ammunition sales "rose tremendously" in 2009 compared to 2008.
"Orders are up at least 40 percent if not closer to 50 percent," Pumerantz said. "It's pretty much across the board. Probably more pistol (ammunition) than rifle (ammunition)."
The increase in sales comes with a decrease in inventory.
"There's absolutely no way we've been able to keep up with orders. We've still got orders on certain specialty items back to February," Pumerantz said.
In a financial report to stockholders, Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc., one of the nation's leading gun manufacturers, stated production grew 69.3percent when comparing the first quarter of the 2009 calendar year to the same time in 2008.
According to the report, production also increased 25.6 percent in first quarter 2009 compared with the fourth quarter 2008.
"It was a very busy year," said Ken Jorgensen, the company's director of media relations. "We tried our hardest to keep up with demand."
That demand was "unusually high," with more than 500,000 units ordered in the first quarter of 2009. The initial influx in demand began in October 2008, according to the report.
Pumerantz said the Obama effect had a positive impact on Ten-X Ammunition Inc.'s bottom line.
"Just when in 2008 as Obama was getting the nomination from the Democratic party, we saw an increase in sales. When he won the election, we saw an increase in sales."
But Obama was not the only politician to help move ammunition. California's Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also helped increase sales.
"When Gov. Schwarzenegger had a bill on his desk regarding the requirement of fingerprinting on ammunition sales, for a background check on ammunition sales, before that was signed, there was a tremendous increase in sales as well," Pumerantz said.
There were also a lot of purchases from government agencies, Pumerantz said.
"That's probably been a bigger component than anything else," Pumerantz said. "Everything from DOD (U.S. Department of Defense), Homeland Security, just throughout the state, all the agencies. Law enforcement agencies (and) government agencies have been increasing their orders in order to stay ahead of the shortages that occurred over the past two years."
Kirschner said general fears that crime goes up when the economy tanks may also have spooked some into buying their first gun.
In late 2008, media reports of huge rounds of layoffs and government bailouts of banks began circulating in the public's psyche, which may have fueled fears of civil unrest, Kirschner said.
"September (2008) was the beginning of the visible recessionary period," he said. "Anytime people have a concern about their personal safety to prevent their own victimization they exercise their Second Amendment right.
"There's also economics - the scarcity of the product. If everybody is purchasing, you're beginning to see the supply and demand effect because the producers can't make (guns) fast enough."