The moment the stock market opened on the Monday after this past weekend’s horrific mass shooting in Orlando, the share prices of prominent arms makers – Ruger, Smith & Wesson, and Olin (which owns Winchester) – all popped. The boards of directors of each of these publicly traded firms should cut a check to Omar Mateen – the perpetrator of the mayhem that cost 50 people their lives, and wounded more than another 50. Or to his family, as Mateen is now thankfully deceased. Smith & Wesson’s market cap went up $90 million in the first few hours that anxious investors could place orders. Ruger is up $100 mil.
Once again, like counter-intuitive clockwork, the fiscal health of gun makers improves dramatically following gun-related tragedies. If the same thing happened in the pharmaceutical industry, the stock price of Pfizer would skyrocket after discovery that dicks fall off of men who take Viagra.
Every time a fucking nutcase commits mass murder with assault rifles and semi-automatic handguns, the gun-owning public shudders at what they believe will be the start of a complete government confiscation of personal weaponry. Fifty people are murdered by a crazed gunman, and hundreds of thousands of people immediately rush out to Gander Mountain to purchase another 10 guns to add to their collections before Obama can swoop in on his black helicopter.
Forget the fact that since 2004 it’s never been easier to acquire any and all manner of weapons, ammunition, and assorted accessories to shooting. Gun laws in most states are as lenient as they’ve ever been: stand your ground laws let you shoot anyone who makes you feel threatened; conceal carry laws let you take guns into movie theaters, bars, schools; laws bar enforcement agencies from collecting and sharing gun violence info.
So the knee-jerk reaction to bid up gun-makers’ share prices after every mass gun shooting makes no sense, but as with much that happens on Wall Street, it’s not the business fundamentals that drive the market – it’s the folkloric “received wisdom” that initiates the lemming-like behavior.
Mass shootings are good for business – and that’s sadly outrageous.
RIP Gordie Howe
Muhammad Ali has received near-unprecedented coverage for a sports star following his death last week – probably 1,000 times more copy than Gordie Howe received following his death on June 10. As a youngster in the 1960s, I had much greater respect for Howe who dominated the sport in his time than I had for Ali who seemed defiantly anti-American – what with the Nation of Islam stuff and the draft dodging. Later on, when it became crystal clear that the Vietnam War was a mistake and an outrage, Ali could claim vindication – but I still cannot get on board with the encomiums in the obits about Ali’s “sacrifices” during the three years he was absent from boxing. Three years when 10,000+ men lost their lives in Southeast Asia.
I much preferred to read obits about the amazing number 9 – Detroit’s Howe who broke records, mentored great players, and continued to skate in the professional leagues into his 50s. Growing up in northwestern Pennsylvania where it was possible to pick up Canadian television broadcasting nonstop hockey and curling, I became a hockey fanatic, attending local hockey matches each week pitting the Erie Lions against other hapless teams from Scranton, or Youngstown, or London, Ontario. I saw so many games in my youth that I actually could sing the Canadian National Anthem.
My heroes at that time, in addition to Gordie Howe included Bobby Hull, Bobby Orr, Stan Mikita, Gerry Cheevers. I had a foosball-like table game in which two players manipulated two-dimensional spinning players up and down the particle-board “ice” – and of course, I named each player after my faves (going so far as to affix Howe’s name on the right-winger with an old-time DYMO label gun.)
In one of the post-mortems on Howe that I read, an avid fan named Bruce Picken recalled a memorable play when Howe was 42 years old. “He was at the right side of the net on a power play and started to shoot the puck. Joe Daley was in net for the Sabres. Howe saw he couldn’t score because of the angle, so he switched from his right-hand shot to his left hand and fired the puck into the far side of the net — left-handed.”
Now that’s why I read obituaries – and why I found Howe’s minimal coverage more compelling than the barrels of ink spilled on Ali.