The record number of firearms sold in March weren’t all purchased by Trump-loving Republicans in red states, despite claims by gun control activists that the surge in sales is all due to fearmongering on the part of the NRA. As it turns out, the desire to protect yourself and your loved ones is non-partisan, and even the New Yorker is recognizing that many of the 1-million or more new gun owners around the country don’t fit neatly into the anti-gun stereotype of the typical Second Amendment supporter.
The magazine’s Charles Bethea reports on a recent trip to Gorge Guns in Hood River, Oregon, where owner Erika Bales has been busy with customers new and old. Among the customers opening her door for the very first time was a woman in her 60s looking for something she could use for home defense.
“My son was a little upset about it.” (He preferred his bow and arrow.) “I’m old and I live alone, and we don’t know if there’s going to be civil unrest. The world is not the same.” She added, “It didn’t have to be this way.” Unlike many of the shop’s regulars, she was no fan of Trump: “He’s a divider all the way. First he said, ‘Five people have died, big deal.’ Now he’s saying, ‘I always knew it’d be dangerous.’ ” Talk turned to Portland. “It’s a ghost town,” a young woman said. Her name was Rosemary, and she was helping Bales out, since the restaurant where she waited tables had closed.
“I don’t like to go in cities anymore, anyway,” the customer said.
“But these rumors about them putting this country in full lockdown are inaccurate,” Rosemary said. “It’s a scare tactic. It’s not like all of a sudden we’re gonna wake up one day and everyone is sick and the whole world is ending.”
The customer ended up selecting a Kel-Tec PMR30 pistol, which can hold 30 rounds of .22 Magnum.
“This is just going to be for close range,” the customer said. “In my house. If it happens.” (Asked what “it” was, she said, “In two months, if the cities are starving, they’re gonna come out. And I understand that.”) Bales piled boxes of ammunition on the counter. “I’ll take them all,” the customer said. She ducked outside to get her wallet from the car.
“I think she’s a liberal,” Bales said, once the door closed. “There’s so many coming in. First-time-gun-owner liberals. I’ve probably seen ten this week. It’s so funny, because I hope it just turns them on to liking the Second Amendment. I mean, the Constitution was created for a reason. To protect us.”
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Post-Gazette newspaper also found self-described progressives purchasing firearms for self-defense.
After standing in line at a Pittsburgh-area sporting goods store for more than an hour, not knowing what he would say to the sales clerk, the self-described “liberal Democrat from New York City” bought a gun. He said it was an impulse buy, not a “panic.”…
“The stock market is tanking. I’m well-read enough to know that puts the onus on people to feel differently about how commodities are traded and how people will act,” said the gun-purchasing anesthesiologist, who lives in Fox Chapel and works in Pittsburgh.
He asked that his name be withheld due to concerns about how friends and neighbors might react to his self-defense solution…
“I’ve been an anesthesiologist for nearly 20 years, and there are times I’m in the hospital five to seven days a week, and can’t be home to protect my family,” he said. “That’s why I bought it. I’m a Democrat who believes in social welfare for people, health care for everyone. But when you start to say the health care system could break down, we’re in big trouble. I don’t know how people will react at that time.”
It will be interesting to see just how many folks on the left side of the political aisle discover a newfound appreciation for the Second Amendment, and how many of them in places like coastal California, Washington, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts end up discovering that the gun control laws and anti-gun politicians they may have supported in the past are actually making it impossible for them to acquire a firearm during the current emergency.
The right to keep and bear arms isn’t a right of the Right. It’s a right of the people, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum. Unfortunately over the past few decades the number of pro-gun Democrats has dwindled, and in Congress they’re almost non-existent. A surge in support for the Second Amendment among those on the Left could reshape the political debate over our right to keep and bear arms, which is one reason gun control advocates are so intent on keeping the number of new gun owners as low as possible.
It’s unquestionably a good thing that more folks on the Left are joining the ranks of gun owners, but it will be even better if they become politically active in defense of their right to keep and bear arms as well. Longtime gun owners and 2A activists should be reaching out and engaging with these new gun owners whenever possible to encourage them to become an advocate for their rights now that they’ve joined the ranks of armed Americans.