It’s a fair question, and Al.com columnist Roy S. Johnson says that he’s serious in asking it. Why are so many Americans, he wonders, buying guns “in such a frenzy?” What’s causing them to “stockpile weapons and ammunition like bread and water ahead of a storm?”
The problem is that while Johnson says he’s sincere in asking the question, he believes he already knows the answer: Trump’s to blame.
One Alabama gun store owner told my Al.com colleague Ramsey Archibald that gun sales are up 1,000 percent since last week’s terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol by a delusional mob of folks who apparently believe the person with most votes shouldn’t win. Or that their vote counts for more than those of voters who chose differently.
They believe it because of the lies injected into them by the sore-loser, twice-impeached occupant of the White House—only for the next few days, thankfully. They believe it because of the dark cave of conspiracies in which they dwell.
So, they buy guns. At unprecedented rates. Not just here in Alabama, and not just since last week. On Monday the FBI revealed it conducted a record 39.7 million background checks on gun buyers in 2020, trumping the 2019 record (29.4 million) by 40 percent.
I’ve got news for Roy Johnson. It’s not just Trump voters or those who believe the election was stolen who are buying guns. Far from it, in fact. People across the political spectrum are embracing their right to keep and bear arms, and across the country too. It’s not just that sales are spiking in Alabama, where Trump won the state handily. They’re spiking in places like New Jersey, where Trump wasn’t competitive in the presidential election.
So, Johnson’s wrong about who these American gun owners are. Is he right about why they’re buying guns for the first time?
Blame the early surge on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as Americans lost jobs and faced new pressures to care for their families. Then came the summer’s uncomfortable—but necessary—racial reckoning after we watched the tragic killing of George Floyd beneath the knee of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin unfold over a heinous 8 minutes and 43 seconds.
Now, in the wake of perhaps the most democratic and securitized presidential election in history, there is this: “I think people are afraid,” shared a gun-shop owner in Blount County.Of what? That guns may go poof during the term of President Joe Biden, who vowed during the campaign to address gun violence and tweeted he would “defeat” the National Rifle Association? Or maybe that someone will come knocking on your door and confiscate your arsenal?Neither will happen, of course, but that doesn’t matter to those inhabiting an alternate universe of their own misinformed creation.
Does Johnson think that the coronavirus and the economic havoc we’ve seen as a result of lockdown orders has gone away? Does he think that the rioters on the Left have all gone home and been replaced with rioters on the right?
The factors that drove up gun sales to record levels in the spring and summer of 2020 are still with us, and they’re still having an impact on gun sales. Add to that the concern over more unrest in the future and the prospect of new federal gun control legislation, and it shouldn’t be a shock to see yet another spike in demand.
As for Johnson’s blithe assertion that you’re living in an alternate reality if you take Joe Biden at his word, isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Biden just told the American people he will always be honest with us, so why shouldn’t I believe him when he says that he wants to turn the most commonly sold center-fire rifle in the country today into a prohibited item?
Johnson then mocks the NRA and others for stoking “the long-smoldering embers of gun owners by calling Biden’s promises an all-out ‘onslaught’ on the Second Amendment and ‘gun owners.’”
Biden “will ban and confiscate the most-commonly-owned rifle in the United States” and “will arbitrarily limit the number of guns that can be bought per month,” it claimed.
Among Biden’s proposals is limiting the purchase of guns to no more than one per month. Do you really need to buy more than one gun each month?Biden has also talked of preventing folks convicted of hate crimes from owning guns and forbidding the sale and manufacturing of high-capacity weapons and ammo.