More Americans than ever before are purchasing firearms amid widespread uncertainty over COVID-19, the economy, and protests to defund the police.
The FBI has processed 19 million background checks for gun purchases so far this year (more than 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 combined). June set a new record of 3.9 million background checks, breaking a previous record of 3.7 million set in March.
Overall, these numbers represent an increase of more than 130% compared to the same time last year.
As reported by NPR, seven of the ten highest weeks for background checks occurred this year, including the first four weeks of June. The line for a gun permit in Minneapolis (the city where George Floyd was killed) was more than three hours long on Juneteenth.
Illinois reported the most background checks during the month of June (706,404) followed by Kentucky (395,188), Texas (227,232), and Florida (210,415).
Nationwide gun sales were up 80% in May, 71% in April, and 85% in March compared to last year. An estimated 2.4 million guns were sold during the month of June.
In contrast to prior gun-buying surges, as many as 40% of sales are going to first-time buyers seeking handguns for personal safety.
“Civil unrest, rioting, looting, and calls to defund the police are unquestionably motivating factors of why this trend is increasing,” says Mark Oliva, a spokesperson for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
Seeing small businesses damaged or looted on TV is scaring folks whose lives depend on their ability to make ends meet, explains Dana Loesch, a former spokesperson for the NRA. “So they look at this and it unnerves them, especially after we’ve all been locked up for, like, three months.”
The gun-buying trend is particularly worrisome for political leaders facing sharp upticks in gun violence. These are the same leaders calling for gun control legislation and smaller police forces.
As I wrote in a previous article (click here), shootings in New York were up 150% the weekend of July 4th. In Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp was forced to call in the National Guard after a violent weekend left 31 wounded and 5 dead, including an 8-year-old girl.
“The past months, and especially the events of the past week, show us that in uncertain times, law-abiding Americans will consistently choose to take responsibility for their own safety, as is their right,” says Oliva. “Police were already stretched thin before this wave of unrest, prisoners recently released from jails were being re-arrested for subsequent violent crimes, and the widespread destruction of personal property and assaults remind Americans that they must be their own first-responder.”
Author’s Note: While I understand Americans’ need to feel protected during this uncertain time, this trend threatens to polarize Americans even more as we move closer to the election – not to mention the dangers of more guns in inexperienced civilian hands combined with growing civil unrest and a weakened police force.
Editor’s Note: The shift from Democracy to mob rule has gone further than it ever has before. We have never seen times like these before. With the protests and riots, and frightened politicians appeasing terrorist organizations without any thought, who know how far we will descend further into mob rule. Guns are warranted.