We know for a fact that gun sales have been soaring since the first of the year, and anecdotal evidence points to millions of new gun owners since January. We’ll likely see at least a million more Americans become gun owners before Election Day in November, but what kind of impact will these new additions to the Second Amendment community have on the election? On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, I talk with the Washington Examiner‘s Salena Zito about the electoral effect of these new gun owners, and where we’re most likely to see them make a difference.
Salena’s travels recently took her to Oakmont, Pennsylvania, where gun store owner Gregory “Gooch” Ionadi has been seeing a steady stream of new customers walk through the doors of Smoke ‘N’ Guns.
Last month, as activists set fires, looted, and called for defunding or abolishing the police, the FBI numbers show that more than 3.6 million firearm background checks were conducted, making July the third-highest month on record.
Those numbers reflect Ionadi’s experience: a surge in sales in March and April followed by big numbers in June and July following the riots.
“You wouldn’t believe the first-time gun buyers I’ve seen,” said Ionadi. “I started seeing little old ladies, 70, 80 years old, wanting to defend themselves because of what was going on. So, I had to change my thinking. I had to start buying 22 Magnum revolvers. I have some revolvers here, but I had to start buying revolvers that women and older folks could use because they are easy to handle. Semi-auto and a revolver are two different things.”
Oakmont is in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, represented by Democrat Mike Doyle, who’s steadily become more anti-gun during his time in office. The district is rated D+13 by the Cook Political Report, but Doyle could face tougher-than-normal challenge from GOP candidate Luke Negron thanks to the increase in new gun owners in the area.
Permit applications for firearms have doubled in New York City, but it’s highly unlikely that a few thousand prospective gun owners are going to turn the metropolis Republican and allow Donald Trump to win his home city. Outside of NYC itself, however, new gun owners could play an outsize role in electing pro-2A members of Congress like Elise Stefanik, who represents a good portion of upstate New York.
The New York Post reports that gun sales have increased across the state by 121% compared to June of 2019, with the bulk of those purchases coming from upstate and Long Island. The odds are that Rep. Stefanik will benefit from the support of at least some of those new gun owners, especially since her Democrat opponent Tedra Cobb was caught on camera back in 2018 lying about her position on a so-called assault weapons ban.
According to Zito, it’s those swing districts like NY-21 where new gun owners could make the biggest difference come November. Of course, not every new gun owner is going to vote like their Second Amendment rights depend on it. I’m sure that on Election Day, there’ll be voters who purchased an AR-15 earlier this year who turn around and cast their vote for the candidate who has promised to ban their new gun, though I’d like to think that those voters will be few and far between.
Be sure to check out the entire interview with Salena above, and stick around for more news afterwards, including a Florida woman forced to defend herself from an armed intruder and an off-duty police officer in the right place at the right time who was able to help save a pilot after his ultralight aircraft crashed into a New Hampshire lake.