‘Our ancestors died for us to vote, they also died for us to be able to carry guns’
When Americans panic, they buy guns — lots of them. During the first six months of 2020, amid a global coronavirus pandemic, gun retailers have reported a record 10.3 million firearm transactions, according to a new survey by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Overall, gun sales in the U.S. have increased by 95 percent while ammunition sales have increased 139 percent compared to the same period last year.
And while various demographic groups are buying guns in 2020, African-Americans account for the highest increase in gun purchases of any group.
“The highest overall firearm sales increase comes from Black men and women, who show a 58.2% increase in purchases during the first six months of 2020 versus the same period last year,” Jim Curcuruto, NSSF director of research and market development, wrote in his report. “Bottom line is that there has never been a sustained surge in firearm sales quite like what we are in the midst of.”
In many states, estimated gun sales doubled in March compared with February. In Utah, they nearly tripled. And in Michigan, a coronavirus hot spot, sales more than tripled.
Yet it’s not the first time gun sales have surged following an event with national implications. In 2012, more than 3 million were purchased in the months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, in which a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children, in Newtown, Conn. After this tragedy, Americans feared stricter gun laws so they bought more guns. In the eight years under President Obama, the gun industry grew 158 percent, according to the NSSF, over fears of impending gun control.
While much of the spike in sales early on can be attributed to uncertainty surrounding business shutdowns and initial stay-at-home orders because of COVID-19 precautions, more recent sales may be due to an uneasiness around Black Lives Matter rallies and increased calls to defund police departments.
Michael Cargill, a Black man and owner of Central Texas Gun Works in Austin, Texas, says that amid all the anxiety over the pandemic and rallies, people are buying guns to take personal responsibility for their safety. “People were concerned with people breaking into their home or breaking into their vehicle or attacking them while they’re in their vehicles [after COVID-19],” he said in a video interview with Yahoo News. “So people wanted to take their own protection into their own hands.”