We don’t know for sure how many Americans have decided over the past couple of weeks to exercise their Second Amendment rights for the first time in their lives, but anecdotally, I’m hearing from a lot of gun store owners and employees that a huge portion of their customer base are first-time gun buyers. Gun control advocates are doing everything they can to try to shame and scare Americans into staying away from firearms, but for the most part it seems their efforts are falling on deaf ears.
Amanda Marcotte with Salon isn’t a fan of the Second Amendment during normal times, and the thought of tens of thousands of Americans buying a gun for the very first time has sent her into a tizzy.
No doubt these folks are aware that COVID-19 is a microscopic virus and therefore is not something you can shoot. No, obviously, the fear is about the economy collapsing (thanks for the negligence, Donald Trump!), leading to a rise in crime and violence, in which people imagine they can use these guns to defend their lives, families and property. Also, decades of NRA propaganda have convinced people to associate guns with safety. Indeed, as the economy craters, the NRA is treating this crisis as another opportunity to sell guns to people. What else would it do?
The NRA doesn’t sell guns to people, and it’s not NRA propaganda that’s driving gun sales at the moment. It’s common sense. People are concerned about the prospect of the public safety net unraveling over the next few weeks, and they want to be able to protect themselves and the people they love. That’s not an unreasonable fear at all. In fact, at the moment it seems pretty prudent to not want to be defenseless.
But the last thing anyone should be doing in this crisis, if they want to stay safe, is to buy a gun. Buying a gun right now will make your family and your home less safe, especially if you, like many panic buyers, are not trained in gun safety and don’t have the proper storage.
Second Amendment supporters want to ensure that new gun owners have access to basic firearms education and safety training, which is why we’ve seen a push from groups like NSSF, NRA, USCCA, and others to direct these folks to online resources until they can get to a range. That seems like the wisest course of action to me, but Marcotte would simply prefer that all these new gun owners march down to the police department and turn in their new handguns, shotguns, and rifles for safekeeping.
Everyone is feeling helpless and scared right now, and wants to find ways to gain a sense of control over their lives. There are plenty of things we can do that are actually helpful: Clean and organize your house. Hold a FaceTime happy hour with friends. Learn a new hobby. Install a security system at your house, if you’re worried about break-ins. Donate to a Democratic candidate, in hopes of getting the White House monster who got us into this disaster out of office.
But one thing you should not do is buy a gun. It won’t make you or your family safer. On the contrary, it might lead to someone getting shot — and needing to be rushed to a hospital that’s already in danger of being overwhelmed by the coronavirus. So stay home and stay safe. Leave the guns alone.
Clearly, Marcotte isn’t writing for a pro-Trump, pro-Second Amendment audience, and yet she’s trying to convince her audience not to buy a gun. That tells me that we’re not just seeing a surge in interest in self-defense among conservatives. There are plenty of liberals and progressives who are embracing their right to keep and bear arms right now, and that’s really what scares Marcotte and gun control activists. They know that the coronavirus pandemic has the potential to change the word in many ways, including the gun control debate. On the other side of this emergency, we may find that support for new gun control measures aren’t nearly as popular on the Left as they were even a few weeks ago.