Last month set records for gun sales. The gun-buying frenzy looked like Obama had just been reelected with an anti-gun Congress and they were ready to make Ralph Northam-like moves to restrict your gun rights. It was downright insane.
All of that was, of course, spurred by concerns over COVID-19 and what kind of aftermath we might see. Hell, with pretty much everything shut down, that aftermath might involve an economic collapse on top of everything else.
Those fears have led a lot of people to the gun stores. That includes a number of liberals who are finding out the hard way that guns aren’t nearly as easy to get as they like to believe.
But that was last month, right? Surely it’s died off by now.
Illinoisans tried to buy an unprecedented number of guns in March – nearly twice as many as the month before – and the state’s leading firearm-owners advocacy group says it was fueled by fears of “social unrest” during the coronavirus crisis.
Illinois State Police reported 60,332 inquiries about firearm purchases in March – the largest number in a single month since they began keeping records in 1992. And nearly 87% of those inquiries from gun dealers came in the final two weeks of March, when the state was under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order.
Illinois State Police declined to speculate on a reason for what the agency described as “an unprecedented number of Firearms Transfer Inquiries,” but the Illinois State Rifle Association pointed squarely at the coronavirus pandemic.
“When there is a chance for social unrest … people want to be able to protect themselves because they really don’t trust the government to protect them,” said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association.
The rush to buy firearms began about the middle of the month, before Pritzker issued his order closing all but “essential” businesses but after the governor had already ordered schools, restaurants and bars closed.
And yet, the surge continues.
Of course, it would be easy to rationalize that at least some of the current surge in Illinois comes from a delay due to having to obtain a FOID prior to buying a gun. It’s a fair bit of speculation to make.
However, the surge is continuing in other states, includes far less restrictive states.
I spoke with a friend who works in a Kansas gun store. He estimated that sales are anywhere from 1.5 times to three times the volume as it was this time last year. That’s a healthy increase no matter how you look at it.
The truth is, there are a lot of people who weren’t worried, to begin with, thinking we’d deal with a two-week lockdown and life would get back to normal. Well, that’s not what’s happening. The lockdown has been going on for a month with no real end in sight. Here in Georgia, we’re to “shelter in place” until the end of April, but unless COVID-19 slows down considerably, we expect that to be extended, meaning a good two months at least closed off from the world.
A lot of folks who weren’t bothered to begin with are starting to get worried. They want firearms because they know what all can happen as the economy continues to tank. That includes in liberal, anti-gun bastions like Chicago where they already have a problem with violence even in the best of times.
These ain’t the best of times.
In fact, I expect the firearm industry to be the one industry to not just survive during this difficult time, but to outright thrive.