Per usual, my friends on both sides of the gun debate are trying to ramp up fears about the virus by promoting their views on guns. On the one hand, Gun-nut Nation wants everyone to buy a gun because sooner or later, your house will be invaded and ransacked by desperate neighbors who want to grab your toilet paper stash. On the other hand, Gun-control Nation is absolutely convinced that the recent spike in gun sales will result in all kinds of violence and deaths.
As far as I’m concerned, both sides need to tone it down. But why miss an opportunity to get your message in front of a captive audience since everyone has nothing better to do these days than sit at home and read Facebook posts, right?
I opened my gun shop on August 1st, 2001. Five weeks later the planes slammed into the towers and gun sales spiked. You had Newt Gingrich saying he expected an ISIS invasion of Philadelphia at any moment. It was really that dumb. And since there wasn’t really any kind of grass-roots, gun-control movement the way there is today, Gun-nut Nation more or less had the public narrative all to themselves.
Except by the time that The New York Times reported an increase in gun sales in a story that appeared on December 9, the spike was over, at least in my store. I suspect the same thing will happen again. Granted, FBI-NICS background checks for handguns jumped almost 50% from February to March, but comparing year-to-year monthly sales has to take into account that until the COVID crisis, gun sales have been in the toilet over the course of the Trump regime. If anything, the increase in sales will make up maybe 2% of the revenues that gun companies have lost over the last three years. Yesterday, Smith & Wesson stock closed at $9.64. A month before the 2016 election it was trading at $30 a share.
As for my friends in Gun-control Nation, they need to calm down a bit and stop believing that every time some guy walks into a store and buys a gun, that this represents a threat to the common good. What it really represents in most cases is the fact that the guy got his income tax refund or maybe that bonus check signed by Trump. Either way, it’s found money ‘The wife’ hasn’t claimed her share, so why not go out and buy another toy? Worst comes to worst, if the washing machine breaks down or the truck needs new tires, you can always sell the damn thing back.
Or maybe you can sell it to a friend. This constitutes the biggest bugaboo to Gun-control Nation because until we get comprehensive background checks covering every transfer of every gun, we know for a fact (I love the term ‘for a fact’) that a lot of those legally-purchased guns are going to wind up in the ‘wrong’ hands. We know this ‘for a fact’ even though there has yet to be one, single evidence-based piece of research which shows that legal gun owners sell their guns, consciously or unconsciously, to someone who shouldn’t get their hands on a gun.
The other narrative being promoted on the gun-control side is the idea that during periods of financial stress, suicides and domestic violence go up, trends that would be aggravated if more guns are floating around. In fact, in the years directly after 9-11, the gun-suicide rate remained about the same, the rate of women killed with guns actually went down.
I think my Gun-control Nation friends should stop ignoring the fact (there’s that word ‘fact’ again) that every time cops are asked whom they fear least, the guys walking around with legally-owned guns always make the top of the list. I’m not excusing those jerks who show up at the stupid, little anti-lockdown rallies with their AR’s. They’re just dumb as hell and have nothing better to do. But the last thing we need right now is more sturm und drang because some guns are flying off the store shelves.
Better we should dump Trump.