While many businesses across the country struggle to survive, the gun industry continues to thrive. Leading up to the election, gun sales have skyrocketed. The uncertainty regarding gun-control has caused numerous Americans to see a "need” to own a firearm. According to estimates from Small Arms Analytics, Americans have purchased 17 million guns this year as of the end of October. “By August, we had exceeded last year’s total. By September, we exceeded the highest total ever,” said Jurgen Brauer, the chief economist of Small Arms Analytics.
It is common for gun sales to increase each election due to the possibility of a democratic president elect increasing gun restrictions. However, this year, as Kate Linthicum of Los Angeles times noted, there is another variable that has influenced the record breaking sales in firearms: “the fear of societal instability.”
Between the mask controversy, police brutality protests, and the aftermath of the extremely controversial election, many people are concerned for their safety. According to NBC news, one woman who has recently purchased a gun for the first time, said “I just feel like it’s a powder keg,” and “I want to be armed and dangerous.” Other people have said that they are “preparing for the coming societal collapse.”
The record breaking numbers suggest that many Americans feel this way. Gun stores across the country have been struggling to keep up with the high demand. According to the Los Angeles Times, suppliers have had to inform their customers that “everything is out of stock.” Jay Winton, an employee at a gun shop in Santa Fe, says that people are “concerned about the long-term path of the country,” and “just like they were hoarding toilet paper, they’re hoarding guns and ammo.”
Fortunately, we are seeing an increase in background checks as well. According to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), there have been 28.8 million background checks through September opposed to the record 28.4 million background checks in 2019.
There appears to be a direct correlation between the recent chaos inflicting events and the purchasing of guns. NBC reports that “the top week came in March, when the World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus crisis a pandemic. The top month this year came in June, following the late-May killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.”
The U.S. has the highest number of firearms per capita with an estimated total of 393 million guns based on the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey in 2017. According to NBC, “the next highest totals of 71 million in India and nearly 50 million in China — countries that both have populations four times the size of the United States.”
The surge in gun sales has led to a rising concern regarding gun violence and gun-inflicted deaths. Additionally, the FBI reports that there has been a surge of homicides since the start of the pandemic as well. “It’s pretty clear that more guns is more death,” said David Hemenway, director of Harvard University’s Injury Control Research Center. The Wall Street Journal reported that as a precaution against potential theft, Walmart removed guns and ammunition from display in stores just in the last week of October.