It was joked that President Barack Obama was the gun salesman of the year for eight straight years, but it was only a partial joke. The constant threat he represented in the minds of gun owners was real, but it also prompted millions to go and buy guns while they could.
When Donald Trump won the election, Second Amendment advocates felt they could breathe a little easier.
While NICS checks are still at record levels, the firearm industry still appears to be struggling. Is it a “Trump Slump” or something else? I don’t know.
However, it seems that in Buffalo, NY, talk of additional gun control is spurring people to head out and buy more guns.
After mass shootings, election drama and gun control efforts, Erie County residents react – by arming themselves.
Roughly three times more residents applied to become handgun owners last year than a decade ago, according to Erie County Clerk’s Office data. And those licensed to own handguns often bought more guns.
“It’s politics and just crazy world events,” said Hamburg firearms instructor and gun dealer Gary Bridges. “You can’t prepare for crazy, and that’s why I think a lot of people are getting pistol permits. They just want to protect themselves.”
Erie County officials estimate that 10 percent of county residents own a registered handgun. Despite fluctuations over the years, there are more people applying to become handgun owners now than there were a decade ago.
County data shows a correlation between gun permit applications and outside influences, such as the political landscape, headlines about mass shootings and backlash by gun control advocates.
The January 2011 supermarket shooting in Tucson that wounded then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others, including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge, resulted in renewed calls for stronger gun control laws and a ban on high-capacity magazines.
During that same period locally, Tea Party activism ran high, Democrat Mark Poloncarz ascended to the County Executive’s Office, and Republican Chris Jacobs had just been elected to replace Democrat Kathy Hochul in the County Clerk’s Office.
Pistol permit applications rose by 37 percent that year.
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in late 2012, followed by the New York SAFE Act in January 2013, continued to propel double-digit growth in new applications. The increase resulted in extended waits of 1½ years or longer for permit approval. Police and clerk offices were overwhelmed.
Of course, this isn’t surprising to most of us. After all, we’ve seen this time and time again, even in states where guns aren’t tightly regulated. Something happens that threatens guns and people start flocking.
The reason is simple. A lot of people consider buying a gun but delay. Guns aren’t cheap, and so it’s something many of them put off until “someday.”
Then something happens that leads these folks to believe their chance to buy may be slipping away, so they rush out to the gun store to buy their gun. Had the anti-gunners not started making noise, these folks might never have made their purchase, but it’s not like anti-gunners can leave anything well enough alone, so it’s all on them.
The fact is that there are a lot of people who support the right to keep and bear arms who don’t actually practice it. That’s because the great thing about any right is that you don’t have to partake for it to matter. You don’t have to exercise your free speech rights for them to be important to you, and the same is true for Second Amendment rights.
But when those rights are threatened, a lot of people will go to war (metaphorically, that is) to defend them…and with the Second Amendment, that often means buying guns.