From one end of the country to the other, gun sales are surging—initially because of the COVID-19 pandemic panic and over the past several days in response to civil unrest over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis—and it suggests people finally understand they are responsible for their own safety.
According to TMZ, riots and looting following Floyd’s death “have many citizens in L.A. panicking and rushing to stock up on protection for themselves and their businesses.”
Business Insider reported, “Massive protests on the back of a pandemic that’s killed more than 100,000 Americans have caused a surge in new gun buyers that could continue as former Vice President Joe Biden’s electoral polling numbers increase over President Donald Trump’s.”
The magazine further noted, “Federal background checks increased 75% in May compared with 2019, a further acceleration from April’s 69% gain over the previous year, according to Cowen research. Handguns, in particular, were up 94%. Background checks are largely considered a proxy for gun purchases in the absence of more granular sales data.”
While police in major cities have been concentrating on violent demonstrations, and even peaceful protests, in the suburbs armed citizens have been showing up to protect local small business districts in reaction to what have been variously described as reliable tips that vandals were planning to hit outlying areas.
Even in Montana, where it might seem as though everyone owns at least one gun, Montana Public Radio reported that the Big Sky Country is no exception to the rush on gun stores. The story quoted James Zimmerman, owner and general manager of Missoula’s Selway Armory. He told MPR that customers have mentioned several reasons, including the coronavirus pandemic and the growing social unrest following the alleged murder of George Floyd, for purchasing a new gun.
“People are concerned about their safety; you know?” Zimmerman observed. “They feel that, as we’ve seen with these riots, the government cannot always protect you.”
Down in Burbank, Calif., David Schwartz, owner of Burbank Ammo & Guns, told TMZ customer traffic at his store “was nonstop over the weekend and Monday.” Most of his customers have been homeowners or small business operators “and were looking for something to use to protect their property and products,” the story said.
The FBI National Instant Check System reported more than 3 million background checks were conducted in May. Even though that number does not translate one-on-one to a firearm sale, it’s a strong indicator about the public demand for guns.
The buying trend has included a large percentage of first-time gun buyers, and that strongly suggests more Americans are realizing their personal safety is their responsibility. Police cannot respond immediately to every call, and in the meantime, each citizen must become their own first responder.
Understanding that, people—including a large percentage who have never before owned a gun—have been buying them lately.
As reported by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, “retailers reported an increased number of first-time gun buyers, estimating that 40 percent of their sales were to this group.”