The Quad Cities is an area that includes communities in both Iowa and Illinois. While Iowa is thought of as fairly pro-gun, Illinois isn’t. As a state, that’s pretty accurate. However, the Quad Cities parts of Illinois aren’t exactly Chicago so far as politics goes, especially as it relates to the Second Amendment.
And it seems the region saw a huge influx of applications for concealed carry in 2020.
Gun sales have increased around the country since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the increase seems to be driven mostly by first-time gun buyers.
In the Quad-Cities, the trend is no different. Scott County received 5,379 permit-to-carry applications in 2020, more than double the 2,014 applications received in 2019. As of the end of August, 3,143 applications were submitted in 2021.
An act passed in April 2021 changed the gun control laws in Iowa, and a permit to carry is no longer required to buy and carry a gun in the state. Anyone buying a gun from a federally licensed dealer must pass a federal background check if they choose not to get a permit to carry.
Rock Island County saw a similar increase to Scott County. In Illinois, all gun owners must have a Firearm Owner Identification, or FOID, card, which is applied for through the Illinois State Police. The ISP received 5,663 applications from people living in Rock Island County in 2020, up from 3,973 applications in 2019. There were 2,874 applications submitted up through August 2021.
Why the increase? Two experts point to a variety of causes.
“First came COVID and the toilet paper wars. Then came the protests and the defund the police groups,” Jeannelle Westrom, owner of Davenport Guns and Shooting Club said. “A lot of things were happening.”
And that was a big chunk. Plus, frankly, there was concern over an economic collapse associated with COVID. Bad economies often seem to bring out the worst in people. A lot of folks figured they should get ready for some of that before it happened.
Considering how ammo prices and availability have been, that might have been a wise decision.
Regardless, those are a lot of new gun carriers.
What we don’t know is how many of these were new gun owners. Some people own firearms for years before they ever bother with concealed carry. It’s just not an issue for them until something makes it an issue. Then they seek to join the ranks of concealed carry.
Others buy a gun with the intention of carrying it. There’s really no way to know for certain how many are which.
Not that it matters, though. More lawfully armed citizens will correspond to a drop in violent crime over time. We’ve seen this historically–the drop in violent crime from the highs of the 90s corresponds with the expansion of concealed carry throughout the United States, and while correlation doesn’t equal causation, causation doesn’t create correlation.
In the end, we’re going to see law-abiding citizens standing victorious over the criminals that are running rampant right now. That’s at least part of what happened before. It’s part of what will happen again.