Until the Great Gun Run of 2020, which was prompted by COVID stay-at-home orders, an increase in violent crime, and civil unrest after the death of George Floyd sparked riots in many American cities, I would have said that nothing creates a spike in gun sales like a sustained push for new gun control laws. When anti-gun politicians try to crack down on the supply of firearms, it typically ends up creating even more demand for them. That’s why Barack Obama was widely credited as being the gun salesman of the year in 2013, when his post-Sandy Hook push for new gun controls helped create what was at the time one of the biggest surges in gun sales in our nation’s history.
We’ve seen something similar play out in my home state of Virginia, where Democrats took control of the legislature in 2019 and passed the first gun control laws in decades the following year. As the editors of the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star point out, the new gun laws on the books didn’t prevent a record-setting year for gun sales in the state.
After seven gun control bills were passed by the General Assembly last April and signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam, Virginians bought even more guns. According to the Virginia State Police’s Firearms Transaction Center, a record 587,107 background checks were conducted in the commonwealth in just the first nine months of 2020.
It seems that the more lawmakers try to control guns, the more people buy them. But that didn’t stop state lawmakers from passing even more gun control bills this year.
That’s true, though Democrats did shy away from trying to push Gov. Ralph Northam’s ban on modern sporting rifles, ammunition magazines, and suppressors this year, despite the governor proclaiming that that it would be a top priority for his administration in 2021.
Instead, the Democrats in charge of the General Assembly restricted their gun control efforts to smaller agenda items in an attempt to avoid making gun control key issue in the statewide elections coming up this November.
The Free Lance-Star has a full rundown of where the latest anti-gun proposals stand in the state legislature in its editorial, but their bottom line is simple: none of the new laws proposed by Democrats are going to make the state any safer, but they’re very likely to lead to new gun owners and increased gun sales.
Last year, Gov. Northam preemptively fenced-off Capitol Square before what turned out to be a peaceful rally attended by thousands of armed Virginians in defense of their Second Amendment rights. This bill would prevent such a demonstration from ever happening again, and perhaps that’s the point, since opponents of the bill correctly point out that while it turns Capitol Square into another “gun-free zone” for law-abiding citizens, it does nothing to prevent armed criminals from entering the area.
Passing more gun control laws may look like state legislators are “doing something” about gun violence. But if recent history is any indication, the result will just be more guns in the commonwealth.
I think that’s a given. The Free Lance-Star should also have pointed out that, despite the new gun control laws put on the books last year, violent crime in Virginia actually increased instead of declining. Even worse, Virginia had one of the lowest crime rates in the nation before the Democrats passed their gun control legislation. As a public safety measure, their anti-gun agenda has only made things worse. As a promotion for gun sales, however, the gun control efforts of Democratic lawmakers have been a huge success.