Red Ryder BB Gun

By Jeff Peter, Guest Columnist

I have a confession to make. I hate the Christmas Story. Not the manger scene, but the 1983 Hollywood adaptation of an all too popular fictional tale that runs rampant over the airwaves every Christmas season. I honestly don’t understand what people see in the film, but I think part of my distaste may originate in a desire for superior firepower. You see, my first firearm was also a gift. But while Ralphie received a Red Rider BB gun, I received a Rock Island built Springfield M1903 that had been in my family almost since its date of manufacture. It is my favorite firearm, my most prized possession and, I dare say, a far superior Christmas gift than a BB gun in every conceivable way.

Like Ralphie, many Americans received the gift of marksmanship this past Christmas. While I generally skip the insanity of Black Friday, CNN reported that background checks for firearms tipped the scales at 175,000 (three per second) on America’s busiest day of shopping. Whereas some seasonal shoppers may have taken personal advantage of clever marketing strategies like the “Twelve Days of Armalite,” it would be a safe assumption that a large percentage of sales would, just like Ralphie’s experience, end up next to a Christmas Tree. The recipients of those gifts may surprise you.

The Washington Post reported that the ranks of female firearms ownership have swelled by 8 percent since 2005 alone, and all you have to do is take a trip to your local gun dealer to see a possible reason. My local shop had a pink and black camouflaged Black Rain Ordnance rifle that disappeared during the holidays and I wasn’t that shocked to find out that a young friend of mine had just purchased her first rifle.

Marketing and cosmetics can sweeten a sale, and manufacturers are all too happy to satisfy the desires of both sexes. After all, what better way to bolster holiday cheer than to share your passion with a loved one? The numbers speak for themselves. Be it hunting, trap, marksmanship or otherwise, the American tradition of firearms proved to be alive and well this year, especially at Christmas.

Jeff Peter is a resident of Iowa and a life long firearms enthusiast and collector. He is a NRA member and a graduate of Iowa State University.

Did you do a little window shopping this holiday season and see something that would fit your special someone? Or maybe fill that empty spot in the safe you’ve been meaning to occupy? Did a narrow box wrapped in red paper and a green bow bring a smile to a youngster’s face you know and care about? If so, we’d love to hear about it. Post a picture on our Facebook page or tweet it to us!