New York gun sales spiked after Buffalo shooting and Bruen decision

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

One of the ironies of the modern gun control movement is that, while their proposed laws do little to reduce violent crime, they often lead to a major increase in the number of guns that are actually sold.

Such is the case in New York, where data shows a surge in gun sales after the shooting at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store in which ten people were killed. According to NICS data, there were 48,349 checks performed on gun buyers in June; the highest number recorded in the state since March 2021. The number of background checks performed on gun purchases declined slightly in July after the Supreme Court overturned the state’s “may issue” carry laws, but the 37,743 checks were still 14% higher when compared to July 2021.

The Buffalo News notes that the sales increase came as lawmakers were rushing to adopt new restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms after the mass shooting in Buffalo and found that many gun shops across the state were anticipating a rush to purchase a gun before Democrats enacted their new gun control measures.

LiVecchi’s Gun Sales in North Collins had record sales in June and July, with anything semi-automatic “flying off the shelves” in the weeks after the new gun control regulations were proposed, said owner Michael LiVecchi.

“But that’s usually the way it is. We have this ripple effect when they come out and announce something or threaten to announce something,” he said. “Anything that could lead to a change in legislation, we expect a spike.”

Other gun shops in Western New York said sales were strong, which they also attributed to concern over further government limitations on firearms.

We won’t know what August’s NICS numbers look like for a few more weeks, but with many of New York’s new gun control laws set to take effect on September 1, it wouldn’t shock me if there’s another rush to purchase firearms between now and the end of the month.

Anti-gun researcher Dr. Garen Wintemute agreed that concern over new gun laws is one of the main reasons why gun sales surged in New York (though he prefers the term “fear”), but went on to declare that these increased gun sales will only lead to more violent crime.

And while most firearms are not used in crime or for criminal purposes, the spikes in sales after mass shootings are “temporally related” to increases in violence, said Wintemute.

The risk of violence inside a residence “goes way up” with a firearm there, especially if it is the first gun brought into the home, he said.

“So, the cycle is: violence increases firearm ownership, which increases violence,” he said.

If Wintemute was right in his theory, then violent crime would be on a never-ending upward spiral. After all, each year, millions of firearms are purchased by law-abiding citizens, which only adds to the number of privately-owned firearms (now estimated to be around 400 million in the U.S.). But violent crime actually declined for several decades between the early 1990s and 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic and riots over the death of George Floyd led to closed courtrooms, jail populations released, and a surge in violence in many U.S. cities. Yes, gun sales dramatically increased as well, and gun control activists have been quick to blame the spike in sales for the crime wave, but that doesn’t mean the two phenomena are directly related.

… the University of Denver’s Trent Steidley, who studies the sociology of firearms in America, says it’s too early to conclude that the increase in the overall supply of legal guns last year led to more guns used in crimes — especially when you look at the last decade.

“We’ve sold a lot of guns since 2008. And year-over-year, until 2020, we saw crime rates declining,” he says. “I don’t think 2020 is going to settle this.”

As far as gun control advocates are concerned, the issue is settled; never mind that data doesn’t back up their conclusions. It feels right to them that more guns should equal more crime, so it must be true no matter what the statistics show.

If Wintemute is right, by the way, then it doesn’t matter how many new gun control laws were passed in Albany since the shooting at the Tops grocery store in Buffalo back in May. As long as the number of guns sold each month remains above “zero,” then, according to Wintemute’s cycle of violence theory, the state should see increased crime rates going forward. Of course, if New York defies that theory and crime rates start to decline, he and other anti-gun activists will be quick to praise the state’s new laws for having an impact, even though under his theory, that shouldn’t be possible. Welcome to Gun Control Logic 101, where arguments don’t have to make sense as long as they take the position that exercising your Second Amendment rights is always the wrong thing to do.