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Cashing in on the New Millennium

How the Firearms Industry Exploits Y2K Fears to Sell More Guns

Section Three: Quotes From Selected Industry Magazines

"Y2Kaos," Bob Rogers, Shooting Sports Retailer, January 1999, pp. 23-24

Amidst social turmoil and disintegrating economic underpinnings, you will sell more guns in 1999 than you've ever sold in your life.

"You'll need three things," echoed just about every computer programmer we researched for this report, "a rifle, a shotgun, and a handgun. And lots of ammo."

The fact is that, regardless of how mild or how stormy the seas of concern and believability over Y2K, the level of chaos is likely to raise considerable concern about firearms´┐Żnot, in this case, that there are too many on the streets of America, but that there may be too few.

"H&R 1871 Sues Colt's Over New Revolver's Name," Firearms Business, March 1, 1999, p. 3
H&R 1871, Inc. says it has filed a lawsuit claiming that Colt's Manufacturing Company's "Survivor" multi-caliber revolver infringes on a trademark it has held for several years.

The "Survivor" name is a key element in both companies' plans to capitalize on market opportunities raised by expected Y2K banking and infrastructure problems.

H&R plans to aggressively market its Survivor shotgun line to take advantage of an anticipated run on personal protection guns later this year as consumers prepare for the millennium. A special "Y2K" edition is on the drawing board.

Colt's is seeking the same market for its revolver, saying it plans to target the Y2K niche in 1999 with the lightweight gun that adapts to fire any of 18 calibers of ammunition.

"Y2K Concerns Fueling Firearms Markets," Firearms Business, April 1, 1999, p. 3
Sales on almost every firearms-related product have been brisk throughout most of the first quarter, running well ahead of the 5 to 10 percent increases most market observers had predicted for 1999. Some wholesalers say business is about 20 percent ahead of the comparable 1998 period.

Almost everyone involved believes the strong market is the direct result of consumer concerns about Y2K, which have prompted many individuals to buy guns and ammunition and store food, water and cash.

"I don't think a lot is going to happen with Y2K, but we're going to sell the heck out of it anyway," said one wholesaler, who has supplemented his gun lines with such items as solar power radios and food items. "Anything that has to do with Y2K is hot right now. The fact that you have public officials saying there could be problems has helped build dealer and customer demand."

"A Realistic Look at Y2K," Massad Ayoob, Shotgun News, June 7, 1999, pp. 8-9
Predictions of societal breakdown have brought in many customers who may never have thought they'd set foot in a gun store. What should they be buying?

Home invasions happen faster than burglaries. You'll want a handgun on your person somewhere, instantly accessible.

The Los Angeles looters and, for the most part, those in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew were scavengers motivated primarily by greed. In a scenario in which people were starving and desperate, you might find yourself facing more committed groups of antagonists. High capacity semiautomatic military rifles would come into their own.

But a 10-pound sniper rifle is awfully heavy and bulky if you have to range outward away from home, especially on foot.

A light, fast-handling infantry rifle will be the most versatile.

Consider a collapsing or folding stock. It may also be easier to deploy out of a vehicle. If you're on foot, it will certainly be easier to conceal under something like a long coat, on a sling over your shoulder but under the garment.

History shows us that bad things are most likely to happen to people who aren't prepared for them.

"Y2K Phobia, Fact, or Money Maker," John J. Woods, Shotgun News, June 7, 1999, p. 10
Concern about the "Millennium Bug" has traffic flowing into the nation's gun shops and sporting goods stores.

In terms of numbers, nobody really seems to have a handle on any market segment estimate potential. It would be easy to generalize from site locations of people on the Internet chat rooms that concentrations of Y2Kists exist mainly in the American Northwest, specifically Montana, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, and Washington, but they reside all over the United States.

Whatever else the issue, more importantly these are customers that are spending bucks, big bucks getting ready for their own perception of what they think is the worst case scenario. So what does all this mean for SHOTGUN News advertisers, dealer networks, and our readership, if anything?

For distributors, retailers, and dealers stocking items oriented toward Y2K survivalist consumers the question is not will the Y2K collapse happen, but rather is there business profit to be generated from the event likelihood? Is this a viable market to prepare for quickly as time is ticking down? Is money to be made?

"Supplies Remain Tight; Many Products Allocated," Firearms Business, July 15, 1999, p. 3
One could logically expect that AR rifles would be in tight supply; they usually are when Congress considers gun control. The two major suppliers based on current market share, Colt's Manufacturing and Bushmaster, each are allocating every rifle in the category. Market sources say the condition results from a combination of the firms beginning the year with limited stocks and consumer interest spurred by the Y2K phenomenon.

"It's Time to Sell the New Millennium!," Russ Thurman, Shooting Industry, September 1999
Are you ready for the new millennium? I'm not talking about stocking up on food, fuel and toilet paper, but rather business! Are you cashing in on the new millennium?

Business experts in every industry are urging their clients to "Sell The Millennium Experience." While taking advantage of the Y2K "scare" is smart business, there may be as much profit in celebrating the new millennium.

Now is the time to prepare. To top it all off, work up a t-shirt: "I Survived The Millennium Shopping at (your shop) ."

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The Violence Policy Center is a national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals. The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related death and injury.

All contents ´┐Ż 1999 Violence Policy Center