Gun Buys vs. Gun Votes

July 2020 Firearm Sales

It’s election season and everyone is trying to predict how people will vote. Now mix in COVID-19, a near complete national shutdown of the economy, millions of people thrown out of work, business and lives destroyed and lost, violent criminals being released from prison ‘for their safety’, police departments being defunded and services cut, and the ongoing “peaceful protests” a.k.a. riots around the country. It’s no wonder we’ve seen absolutely unprecedented firearms and ammunition sales around the country, many of them by first time buyers. But does this mean more votes for or against gun control politicians as some are predicting? Sadly no, but you know what, that’s not what is important. 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 spread, and the politically motivated shutdown that has lasted MONTHS beyond the initial “two weeks to flatten the curve”, there has been a run on firearms and ammunition unseen in this nation’s history. NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) inquiries, the federal background checks used to estimate firearms sales, have broken records for months with no signs of letting up. 

But there’s something different about this spike vs. previous ones. Most of the time firearm purchases increase after a horrific event and there is fear of political knee-jerk reaction laws to limit access to firearms and ammo. The fears are of course well-founded as gun control extremists and their political allies realize they can cram through otherwise unobtainable laws under the mantra of “never let a crisis go to waste”, even if it means politicizing the victims while they are still bleeding and acting before the cause is actually known. 

This spike has been different. With COVID-19 national shutdown of the economy, convicts being released en masse into the community, law enforcement services being curtailed, daily riots and destruction around the country and random, unchecked violence everywhere, people are genuinely and rightfully concerned for their safety and the safety of their families. In many places, the fear of not being able to get a law enforcement response for hours, if at all, to a plea for help in a crisis has many who have never before owned firearms flocking to gun stores. 

I’ve seen estimates around the country of anywhere between 40% to 70% of purchasers are new to firearms. They come from all walks of life, races, ages, religions and political affiliation. Far more than the normal amount are women. Many of these new purchasers also have no idea what it really takes to purchase a firearm leading to a host of amusing, yet very sad, stories from around the country. 

So, what does this mean politically? Do all of these new firearm owners mean a sweep for Republican or anti-gun control Democrat candidates? No. It means absolutely nothing. And, that’s okay. 

Purchasing or owning a firearm has very little to do with political party affiliation. During my time in the firearms industry, managing a firearm retailer, gunsmithing and operating a small private shooting club and range, I’ve met firearms owners from every point on the political spectrum from off the scale left to the hardest of hard-core right. Just because you own firearms, doesn’t mean you don’t support gun control. I’ve met people you would think to be anti-gun control such as law enforcement, ex-military, a gun range operator and even the owner of a firearm manufacturer who are very pro-gun control. At the same time, one of the biggest anti-gun control advocate I know is a Democrat. 

Modern political party affiliation, especially in urban areas, generally means you have bought onto the full party platform. For Democrats, that means you support gun control. For a politician, if you don’t support the party platform, you’ll very quickly find your Party support and money gone and a new Party supported Democrat running against you.  In rural areas, where there is less focus on the national party platform, politicians from both the major parties are more reflective of their constituents. 

The other thing to remember is very rarely does the citizenry directly vote on gun control measures. There are exceptions, but for the most part we vote for representatives, who then vote for or against gun control. As we’ve seen, many politicians run on a very strong anti-gun platform, at least during the normal campaign season. Then, in the final run up to the elections, gun control is purposefully faded to the background so as not to discourage those who may hold strong firearm rights views.  Sadly, as the State of Virginia found out, once elected, gun control becomes the primary focus with politicians claiming their victory is a mandate for gun control. 

What this all boils down to is firearm purchases are going to mean very little, if anything at all, to the elections. People are going to vote for the party or person they feel best represents their values. Gun rights and gun control is a part of that, but it is very unlikely to switch someone from a blue to red vote. 

My take on this is that’s okay. While I wish more people would place the Second Amendment and firearm rights higher up on their priorities, it is not a requirement for firearm ownership. Second Amendment protected rights apply to EVERYONE equally, no matter their political party affiliation, just as it should be. People owning and using firearms makes them and their families safer, just as it should be. 

So what do we do? We welcome new firearm owners into the community. We help them with training, places to shoot, competition, hunting, sports and self-defense information. We invite them into our clubs and associations so they can be the best and safest firearm owners they can be. If we can also help them to see how important their Second Amendment protected rights are at the same time, then maybe sometime, someday, somewhere, they’ll bump that a little higher up on their priorities. In the meantime, we simply welcome them. 

Bob

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