Gunmaker's "Inaugural Special"

Sometimes context is everything.

Yesterday Connecticut gunmaker Sturm, Ruger & Co. announced an "Inaugural Special" for high-capacity ammunition magazines for its Mini-14 rifles, a weapon nicknamed the "poor man's assault rifle." According to Ruger:

From November 4, 2008 to January 20, 2009, fans of the Ruger Mini-14 Target Rifles and Mini-14 Ranch Rifles, both chambered for .223 Remington, can purchase Ruger manufactured 20-round magazines (regularly priced at $39.95) for only $29.95. This special offer is only available through the Ruger On-line Store. Please note that these magazines are not available where state or local regulations limit magazine capacity to less than 20 rounds.

The Ruger Mini-14 series of rifles has been extremely popular since first introduced in 1974. Long considered simple, rugged, and reliable, these rifles have proven so popular around the woods, farm, and ranch that they earned the nickname "Ranch Rifle." All Mini-14 rifles come from the factory with integral scope mounts.

For 2008 only, Ruger is offering a special edition NRA Mini-14 rifle. This rifle ships with two, 20-round magazines and a portion of the sales from each rifle is donated to the NRA Institute for Legislative Action to support its ongoing efforts in defending our Second Amendment rights.

"Inaugural Special"?

"Target Rifle"?

"Integral Scope Mounts"?

The gun industry's attempts to exploit outside events--in this case, the pro-gun fear that a Democratic Congress and Administration will result in a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines--to sell more firearms and related products to a continually shrinking base of gun owners is well documented.

But Ruger's exploitation of gun lobby-stoked fears of an Obama presidency don't occur in a vacuum, as illustrated by this posting from www.keepandbeararms.com:

Comment by: markht@bellsouthdotnet (11/4/2008)

As I write this it's 11:03PM Central time, and I've known for about 1 hour that Obamarx is president-elect. We all need to get ready mentally for the rough times ahead. We need to make peace with our God for what we might have to do to save what is left of this once fine republic. Or decide if it's even worth saving. Buy what you need NOW. There's a window of opportunity between now and 1/20/09. There may be time after ... but don't count on it. If you don't have what you need now you haven't much time left. May God bless this once great country.

Pro-gun critics will argue that all of this--from Ruger's promo to comments posted on keepandbeararms.com--are just words, the intersection of opportunistic commerce and pro-gun puffery.

And 99.99 percent of the time that's the case. But as we saw when Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, stoking the fear of government can provoke violent acts.

And that's the .01 percent we have to worry about.