The Second Amendment in 2016


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Is it too early to be thinking about November 8, 2016?  Production might already be doing so.  Forecasting is likely already doing so.  And the design team is, well, most certainly already dreaming its way far into the future.
 
But the significance of November 8, 2016 is that it’s the next US presidential election.
 
Ah! you say, and take a sip of your coffee, too soon – too soon.
 
Before you click out of this e-mail, we’re here to pose the question whether the Second Amendment just might play a premier role in the 2016 race for the White House for the first time in U.S. history.
 
Already, this past week, we hit a couple of newspaper articles around the country which expressed speculation whether firearms bills were lingering on state governors’ desks as they weighed the potential national voting impact of signing the bills into law versus vetoing the bills. 
 
The surprise may not be in the states where this is occurring.  The surprise comes from doing the math. 
 
Most Americans know our president is elected through the system of the Electoral College.  On Election Day, we cast our vote while our Electors cast theirs.  But did you know that there are 538 Electors, and to win the election, the candidate must capture 270 electoral votes.  Each state has a different number of electoral votes, equal to the number of Representatives and Senators the state holds in Congress.  The number of Representatives is based on state population, recalculated every 10-years by the US Census Bureau.
 
Do you know the top five states, ranked by electoral votes?  California (55), Texas (34), New York (29), Florida (29), and Illinois (20).  Let’s rearrange that ranking and create two equations.  California (55) + New York (29) + Illinois (20) = 104.  Texas (34) + Florida (29) = 63.
 
California, as we know, is legislative-driven relative to firearms.  It is a heavily regulated state with a number of complexities, such as qualifying for its approved firearms list, which are unique.  The past several months have proved no exception, including bills to ban all semi-automatic rifles with a detachable magazine and to create a registry of all ammunition purchases.
 
In New York, the SAFE Act was signed into law on January 16, 2013 and, with a few minor amendments, it remains in full force and effect and is being enforced.  Among its provisions were limitations on high capacity magazines and sharp restrictions on firearms features.  It is widely speculated whether Governor Cuomo will join the 2016 presidential race.
 
Although Illinois enacted concealed carry legislation in July, this is the home state of Heller.  Whether at the Chicago city level or the local ordinance level, multiple jurisdictions continually introduce legislation to limit or ban various types of firearms.
 
Texas is generally considered a firearms-friendly state, and Governor Perry has been a business ambassador to invite manufacturers to relocate into Lone Star territory.  Governor Perry announced in early July that he will not seek re-election. He was a 2012 presidential candidate, and is said to be considering his options.
 
Florida hosts 1,318,937 concealed carry permits as of July 31, 2013, including a lengthy list of reciprocity states that will honor Florida non-resident permits.
 
It is important also to note that two states, Massachusetts and New Jersey, have continued to make headlines this summer.  Massachusetts (with 11 electoral votes) has more than 60 gun-related bills pending and legislators are conducting a series of public hearings.  New Jersey (with 14 electoral votes) state legislature sent more than a dozen bills to the Governor’s desk, of which he voted some, signed some, and still has several pending.  We’re characterizing these two states as having legislative activity during the legislative recess on this basis.
 
So, in the long and short of the mathematics of electoral votes, the Second Amendment is well on its way to becoming a top three national issue.  And the likelihood of this political event becomes stronger if you consider the heightened activity level of industry production and profits.  There are numerous states where manufacturers are rearranging their presence, whether relocating a plant or opening a new plant.  Sales saw a jump fall 2012 and have continued to fill waiting lists and backlogs, extra shifts, and new hires.  The economy is a standard presidential debate topic, and the economics of the firearms industry, coupled with full legislative hoppers could signal front-and-center debate questions.
 
And, on a final note, let’s not overlook an interesting little study conducted by the Pew Center.  Of nearly 11.5 million Tweets that were gun related from December 14, 2012 to April 21, 2013, a full 60% were related to legislation.  Without overstating the probative value of 140 characters, going into the 2016 presidential election, the voting public could be casting their ballots with an awareness of a wide variety of industry and issue-related legislative proposals and passages.