According to estimates by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, nearly 9-million Americans became gun owners for the first time in 2020, and the surge in gun sales has continued into 2021. These new gun owners aren’t monolithic in their attitudes or ideologies, but represent a cross-section of American society, and have come to embrace their right to keep and bear arms based in large part on their own personal circumstances.
The Delaware Valley Journal in Pennsylvania spoke with several first-time gun buyers recently about what prompted them to head to a gun store, and the responses are quite revealing.
Since entering nursing school a few years ago, Jamie McConville had toyed with the idea of purchasing her first handgun. The Bucks County native, and part-time wellness coordinator at The Joint Chiropractic, says her decision to purchase a Beretta M1951 pistol was cemented by the result of November’s presidential election. “I didn’t want the change of presidency to prevent me from getting a gun. All the anti-police rhetoric really pushed me over the edge.”
Kayonna Dickson, a Philadelphia Parking Enforcement Officer, is another first-time carrier. She bought her handgun this week in response to the storming of the U.S. Capitol building and her fear of ongoing civil unrest. “There was just too much going on in the world, and I live at home by myself.”
There’s no one reason for the surge in gun sales, in other words. For some, it’s about exercising their right before the coming crackdown on gun ownership. For others, it’s about increased unrest and the desire to be safe. I have to admit I was a little surprised to see Dickson reference the storming of the Capitol and not Philadelphia’s sky-high homicide rate, but the increase in violent crime is also leading many Americans to get a gun for self defense.
Of course, not everyone is happy about the spike in gun sales and concealed carry applications.
“Data doesn’t show more guns make us safe. It shows that more guns put us more at risk. Whether you’re talking about suicide, unintentional shootings, or homicide. No other advanced country lives with this kind of gun violence,” says Melissa Carden, volunteer leader for the Pennsylvania State Chapter of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America.
“Most people are responsible gun owners, but it’s really important to know the risks and to mitigate those risks. Safe storage does that. There are approximately 4.6 million children in America who live in a home with an unlocked, loaded gun.”
Remember, for Moms Demand Action and other gun control groups, their definition of gun safety is “Don’t own a gun.” As I told the Delaware Valley Journal, that’s not exactly popular advice these days. True gun safety advocates don’t have any issues with people exercising their right to keep and bear arms. Instead, we want to ensure that those new gun owners have access to training and range time.
“Not only have we seen record-setting gun sales, but concealed carry applications are backlogged for months in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia thanks to the high demand from Pennsylvanians embracing their Second Amendment rights. Unfortunately, we’ve also seen attempts to shut down Philadelphia P.D.’s Gun Permit Unit, placing the right to carry on hold for thousands of residents even as homicides and shootings are soaring. Politicians across the state should be working to ensure that residents choosing to exercise their right to keep and bear arms can do so without needless burdens or delays.”
Gun control activists like Carden may think it’s horrible that millions of Americans are embracing their right to keep and bear arms, but Second Amendment activists think it’s deplorable that governments are putting up barriers between citizens and their civil rights.
I’m glad to see new gun owners like Jamie McConville and Kayonna Dixon, who have fought through the red tape and joined the ranks of the Second Amendment community. I do hope, however, that they go even further and become 2A activists as well. The gun control movement is incensed by McConville, Dixon, and the millions of new gun owners out there, and with the Biden administration intent on passing its gun ban and other restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, we need those folks who are new to gun ownership to step up in defense of their rights as well.
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