Since the recent presidential election, sales of AR-15-style rifles have gone off the charts, and some manufacturers now report backlog orders for their rifles to number in the thousands. The term "assault rifle" will not be used here since that is a misnomer.

Assault rifles, by definition, are fully automatic shoulder-fired rifles, usually carried by infantry into combat. What people are buying for home defense, pleasure shooting, competition and hunting are simply semi-automatic rifles that resemble military-style rifles - mostly civilian look-alikes (the AR-15) of the now iconic M-16 battle rifle carried by U.S. forces for decades.

Once the AR-style rifles cleared the shelves, the run on home-defense shotguns began. Then it moved on to ammunition and handguns.

Now the herd mentality has extended all the way down the spectrum to air rifles, we're told. It seems folks just have not been able to get enough guns since the election in November.

The panic buying has not gone unnoticed. The New Gun Week magazine reported in its Jan. 15, 2009, issue that President-Elect Barack Obama had commented on the gun-buying phenomenon in this manner: "I believe in common sense gun safety law, and I believe in the Second Amendment.

"And so," he stated at a press conference, "lawful gun owners have nothing to fear.

"I've said that throughout the campaign. I haven't indicated anything different during the transition, and I think that people can take me at my word."

Yep, folks take him at his word. Since the Democrats gained power, it's been good for the gun business. The citizenry just doesn't believe the current administration will not move to reduce our gun rights and limit our ability to purchase and own firearms and ammunition.

Applications for concealed carry have also grown tremendously since just before the election, and, at least in Louisiana, the interest in training classes is at its highest level since the process was initiated here in 1996.

To those who try to maintain a positive outlook with wishful thinking that maybe they'll leave us alone, it is suggested you refer to history.

Remember the Clinton administration and the assault-weapons ban? Remember the 10-round magazine limit? Both those prohibitive assaults on your rights finally "sunsetted" after 10 years in 2004.

How about the required gun lock you get with a new pistol? Remember that? If you buy a handgun new from a dealer, you certainly do remember, since it is still in effect. Another gift from the Clintons, adding cost to every new handgun purchased in this country.

With the new Democratic majority in Congress, most people in the know believe such attempts will again be pushed as a way to deter crime.

Read more guns, shooting and politics at Hutchinson's blog: www.theshootist.net.

Hutchinson's newest book, written with Todd Masson, is The Great New Orleans Gun Grab, a searing expose' of the scandal of gun confiscations in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It is available online at www.neworleansgungrab.com.

The Quest and the Quarry, Hutchinson's novel, is a coming-of-age tale of a line of trophy bucks and the youth of a farming family that hunts them. It is available at www.thequestandthequarry.com.

Both books have been chosen Outdoor Books of the Year by the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association, and are available from the publisher by calling (800) 538-4355.