Washington Post columnist sees something "dark" in increased gun sales

AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File

We won’t have any firm numbers on the current number of firearm transfers for a few weeks, but anecdotal evidence is already emerging that points to the Democrats’ new demands for gun restrictions having an impact on gun sales. In Georgia, for instance, one Atlanta news crew visited Adventure Outdoors in Smyrna to find that ever since Joe Biden’s prime-time address to push for a ban on modern sporting rifles, those long guns have become a very popular purchase.

At the firearms superstore, sales are up 30% since last week. Assault rifle sales have tripled, Eric Wallace, a manager at the store, said.

“Especially first thing this morning, folks were waiting at the door to purchase AR-15s,” Wallace said Friday.

AR-15s top some lists for those who want to restrict gun sales in light of their use in mass shootings across the country. Yet the assault rifle’s deadly qualities also draw gun enthusiasts seeking a self-defense tool.

“If you deal with a mob of people possibly trying to take over your home,” Wallace said, “to protect your family, you’ll want as much firepower as you can get. I think it’s a great choice.”

Trevor Gainey walked out of the store with a new AR-15.

“It’s America’s rifle,” Gainey said. “It’s a good choice to defend your home with,” adding that he bought it more “as a collector’s item.”

Beyond the obvious anti-gun bias in the media story, the point remains that when the calls to ban guns grow louder, there’s generally increased demand. We’re watching the same thing play out in Canada in the wake of Justin Trudeau’s call to “freeze” the sale of handguns nationwide, which has led to a run on pistols at gun shops across the country.

Over at the Washington Post, columnist Greg Sargent sees something dark and nefarious in the increased gun sales, even while he acknowledges we’ve seen similar runs before. Some people, he says, may be buying an AR-15 in response to Biden’s call to ban them, but he’s also convinced that “something else is going on.”

Our current moment is in part the result of the gun industry’s radicalization. It has marketed guns in a way designed to target younger demographics and to encourage the militarization of our culture, the increasing introduction of military-style weaponry into civil society.

But another component of the industry’s radicalization, as former gun company executive Ryan Busse argues, is its push toward ever-increasing firepower, toward a kind of fully armed society and the deliberate exploitation of social antagonisms to jet-fuel this trend.

You hear echoes of this in the customer’s suggestion that the AR-15 has become “America’s rifle,” and in the gun store manager urging the purchase of ever more firepower, on the idea that “mobs,” as opposed to lone intruders, will soon invade your home. You see, the threat can always be inflated further.

“There seems to be a particular ratcheting up now,” Busse told me. The goal, he said, is a “maximally armed public.”

Oh lordy. Have you noticed that, according to the Left anyway, gun owners are either heartless and callous bastards who don’t care about the lives of innocent children or unthinking dupes and tools of the greedy and bloodthirsty gun industry; mindlessly rushing out to buy a gun because gunmakers told them to?

Under no circumstances are the men and women who showed up at Adventure Outdoors (or any other gun store) allowed to be fully human with their own reasons and motivations for exercising their right to keep and bear arms, including a desire to protect themselves and their loved ones or even to simply send a “hell no” message to those politicians trying to ban the most popular rifle in the country.

The industry’s defenders might argue that if sales are spiking, it really is because Democrats want to ban things like AR-15s. But even so, it’s difficult to imagine an assault weapons ban passing this Congress. If anything does pass, it will be much more modest: incremental improvements in background checks, incentives for “red flag” laws, and so forth.

What’s more, whatever role the specter of an assault ban plays in driving sales, it’s obvious that something much darker is at work here. The belief that “everybody needs to be carrying,” not just for self-defense but also because Biden is supposedly pushing the country to a place of full-scale civic breakdown, appears to be precisely what the industry wants to encourage in people.

No, it’s not obvious that “something darker” is going on. In fact, Sargent ignores the obvious in favor of a conspiracy theory about shadowy forces in the gun industry. The simplest explanation for the rise in sales of modern sporting rifles is that we’re once again seeing a host of Democrats (and a few Republicans as well) declare that these commonly-owned firearms should be banned altogether, and just as we’ve done in the past, Americans are expressing their opposition by picking up one of the firearms that the anti-gunners are trying to outlaw.