THE economy is sputtering and the stock market is gyrating, but there's one sector of the economy that is experiencing a surge, thanks to Barack Obama's victory in the presidential election. Across the country, gun sales reportedly are booming.
Who knew that paranoia could be such an economic stimulant? As the New York Times reported, people are stocking up on handguns, rifles, and ammunition because they fear Mr. Obama will curb their rights of gun ownership. "He's a gun-snatcher," the Times quoted a gun shop owner in Houston as saying. "He wants to take our guns from us and create a socialist society policed by his own police force."
Admittedly, not all gun buyers currently opening their wallets are likely to be infected with such a level of right-wing hallucination, but even at the fringes this impulse is not logical. Guns were hardly an issue for Mr. Obama during the campaign, and his infamous comment about people who "cling to guns and religion" was an awkward way of expressing sympathy for those in depressed rural areas, not a contemptuous promise to change their ways.
Gun owners survived the Clinton administration and they will survive the Obama administration. Earlier this year the U.S. Supreme Court for the first time defined gun ownership as an individual right, not a collective one, a ruling that would be binding on any president. Regardless of what might be proposed in the way of new gun laws, the basic right will remain inviolate.
Mr. Obama preached nothing but moderation on the campaign trail, despite Republican efforts to twist his words. He is also smart enough to know that he will be a one-term president if he really could gut the Second Amendment.
The United States is a free country and it will remain a free country. People are free to flock and buy guns, but this boomlet is no more sensible than the run on duct tape and plastic sheeting at another paranoid moment in the not-too-distant past.