Illinois gun advocates note dip in sales is normal

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

For two years now, we’ve seen a surge in gun sales. People want firearms and they’re not the people who usually bought guns before the pandemic.

These folks all have their reasons, but they all flocked to gun stores, driving up demand.

However, over the first couple of months of 2022, demand has slipped just a bit. Firearm advocates in Illinois, though, note that this is actually normal.

Gun purchases leveled off in January and February in Illinois, but increased crime continues to drive sales, Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, told The Center Square. Pearson said the January and February dip in gun sales is just seasonal.

“Interest in guns is stronger than ever – particularly in urban areas,” Pearson said.

The situation in the Ukraine is also leading Illinoisans to buy guns and learn how to use them, Pearson said.

“Last year there was an absolute panic and there weren’t many guns on the shelves to buy. Now this year the inventory is catching up and there are more guns available, but the weather was horrible,” he said. “People didn’t go out to buy anything.”

New gun owners who call his office to find out about gun classes say they are concerned about personal safety and rising crime rates, Pearson said.

“Because of the lack of enforcement of the laws in the state of Illinois, no cash bail, that sort of stuff, they are letting murderers out of jail in two hours. More people, particularly in urban areas, are buying firearms because they have to protect themselves,” Pearson said.

This is absolutely true.

However, I do expect sales to be lower than in either 2020 or 2021. After all, we didn’t have the inflation rate then that we do now.

Even if gun prices are completely unaffected, the truth is that many people have much less disposable income than they had just a matter of months ago. I know my paycheck isn’t stretching as far as it did this time last year (Thanks, Brandon!) and I also know I’m not alone.

For some people, buying a gun may go on the back burner.

That said, I wouldn’t expect any dip to be too pronounced. After all, if you’re concerned about violent crime, you may go on a diet of Top Ramen for a few weeks to cover the cost of a gun. What we’re more likely to see are people not buying additional guns nearly as much.

Of course, this is just educated speculation. We’ll have to wait to see how the rest of the year pans out. If inflation drops enough, it may be enough to keep sales high enough no one will notice.

Then again, considering violent crime in this country, I’m skeptical demand could drop enough for it to make that much of a difference.

This should be an interesting subject to watch throughout 2022. Will demand increase in a similar way to previous years? Or will inflation keep an appreciable number of gun buyers away?