Gun control groups are doing their best to convince Americans that they’re being foolish or succumbing to panic if they’re going to their local gun store for the first time in their lives to buy a gun for self-defense. From the mocking tone of “you can’t shoot a virus” to the scolding of ““you’ll only hurt yourself or your kids”, the gun safety movement is letting it be known that their definition of gun safety is “don’t own a gun.”

Clearly, their arguments are falling on a lot of deaf ears, as gun sales have exploded across the country in the past couple of weeks. Distributors who just a few months ago were looking at a large amount of inventory are now scrambling to fill orders from gun shops, and many gun store owners say they’re dealing with a huge number of first-time gun buyers.

Jason Cazes, owner of Low Price Guns in Bellevue, says three weeks ago, the boom in business hit like a ton of bricks.

“It was overwhelming, and it was unexpected and sudden.”

Cazes found himself flooded with new customers with an urgent request.

“Hey I need a hand gun, I need a shot gun. All the sudden they’re interested in having something for protection,” he said.

Cazes soon found himself in the same position as gun shops all over the state and nation, struggling to keep up with the huge demand.

“We’re out of a lot of inventory now, there are a lot of people in the waiting queue,” he said.

Gun control advocates are losing the argument right now, and for a simple reason. They’re wrong. It’s not unreasonable to want a firearm to protect yourself and your family, and I’m not saying that because I’m part of the gun lobby, or I’m trying to stoke fear and panic in order to buy guns. The coronavirus is already  having an impact on some police departments, and officers themselves are growing increasingly concerned about what the next few weeks could look like.

In Detroit, a fifth of the police force is in self-quarantine, while 10-percent of the New York Police Department called out sick on Friday. As the Associated Press reported:

An increasing number of police departments around the country are watching their ranks get sick as the number of coronavirus cases explodes across the U.S. The growing tally raises questions about how laws can and should be enforced during the pandemic, and about how departments will hold up as the virus spreads among those whose work puts them at increased risk of infection.

“I don’t think it’s too far to say that officers are scared out there,” said Sgt. Manny Ramirez, president of Fort Worth Police Officers Association.

If police departments and sheriffs offices are concerned about how their departments will hold up over the coming weeks, the people served by those departments and offices have every reason to be concerned as well. Right now, we’re actually seeing a decline in violent crime in places like Chicago, but virtually no one things that is going to last. Crime will likely return to normal levels as we re-open the economy and relax social distancing measures, but what happens if a third of the police force is out with the coronavirus?

Departments across the nation are already telling people that they aren’t responding in person to most non-violent crimes, and some non-violent criminals are being released early from their jail or prison stays. This has been done in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the institutions, where social distancing is practically impossible, but we’re already starting to see outbreaks in county jails, state prisons, and federal penitentiaries. We’re not going to get to the point of releasing convicted killers and other violent criminals, but the corrections system is going to be just as stressed as law enforcement, and we could see more inmates in jail for non-violent crimes let out early, even if they have violent criminal histories in their past.

What exactly are police officers worried about? First and foremost, they’re worried about getting sick. Many departments are struggling to provide basic personal protection equipment to officers, and often times the masks and hand sanitizer they’re issued is past its expiration date, as was recently reported in San Antonio.

Officers at the San Antonio Police Department’s Central Substation were provided hand sanitizer Wednesday that had an expiration date of 2011, leading some officers within the department to question their agency’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We don’t want officers getting sick at work and bringing it home to their families,” said Mike Helle, president of the San Antonio Police Officers Association. “Why in the world would our department distribute something that is completely worthless?”

Beyond their reasonable concern about becoming sick, and potentially passing on the virus to at-risk family members or members of the public they come in contact with, some are concerned about widespread unrest in hard-hit cities. The AP, for example, spoke to retired Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, who expressed apprehension about the prospect of riots outside of hospitals or city halls.

Some officers I’ve spoken with over the past couple of weeks aren’t as concerned about widespread unrest as they are an increase in home invasions, carjackings, and other crimes of violence, particularly if lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders remain in effect for weeks or months to come. Desperate people do desperate things, and their concern is that the economic impact of the pandemic could lead to an increase in violent crimes at the same time their departments will be struggling to maintain staffing levels.

No, it’s not unreasonable to want a firearm to protect yourself and your family right now. I think it’s actually a pretty practical step to take. However, new gun owners MUST take advantage of the online resources that are available to help them be safe and responsible with their new firearm until they can get some training at a local range. Gun University’s “Gun 101” is a great site for new gun owners, and organizations like the NRA, NSSF, USCCA, and others have also been heavily promoting basic gun safety tips, articles, and videos on their social media. Gun owners can and should share those links as much as possible to help to ensure that new gun owners are exposed to this information.

It is unreasonable to expect Americans to remain disarmed and defenseless when law enforcement across the country is concerned about how the coronavirus will impact their departments and their ability to protect and serve their communities. It’s downright unconstitutional (and unconscionable) to prevent them from getting a gun for self-defense, as we’ve seen in states like New Jersey, where Gov. Phil Murphy has ordered gun stores closed and the state police have stopped doing background checks for gun sales. Murphy told the press this week that, in his opinion, “a safer society” has fewer guns in the hands of the people.

Clearly there are millions of Americans who disagree, and many of them have become gun owners over the past couple of weeks. I think we all hope our concerns dissipate over time, that departments can handle the coronavirus ravaging their ranks and we don’t see an increase in violent crime. What we hope for and what could happen are two very different things, however, and it is absolutely not unreasonable to want a firearm today in order to help you protect yourself and your loved ones in the uncertain future that lies ahead.