What happens when government locks people down into their houses and then police begin to retreat from ensuring public order? Homicides go up, and people start protecting themselves — people who never considered it necessary before. Fox News reports that first-time gun purchases have shot through the roof, pardon the pun, as crime escalates and cities discussing cutting or eliminating police resources:

At the beginning of June, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) announced that more than 2.5 million people had become first-time gun owners in the first half of 2020.

January to June 1 of 2020, was “unlike any other year for firearm purchases — particularly by first-time buyers — as new NSSF research reveals millions of people chose to purchase their first gun during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jim Curcuruto, the shooting foundation’s director of research and market development, at the time.

NSSF data show a record number of gun transactions – 10.3 million – were processed in the country during that time period.

“First off,” Curcuruto wrote in a July 21 blog post, “approximately 90 percent of retailers reported an increase in firearm and ammunition sales during the first half of 2020 versus the first half of 2019. How big are those increases? Responding retailers noted that they are seeing a 95 percent increase in firearm sales and a 139 percent increase in ammunition sales over the same period in 2019.”

Those who were previously too afraid to handle firearms are now too afraid of the alternatives to handling firearms:

Marilyn Miller, one of Paladin’s firearms instructors, said she’s recently been teaching people who told her they “never would have thought of buying a gun until recently.”

“I went from a couple of students a week to probably at least a dozen a week,” she said. “Couples are bringing their kids, ages 14, 15, 16, all the way up to their 20s and want them all to know how to use the same gun that they’re going to keep in the house … A lot of them came in afraid of guns, and came in to try shooting before they went out and purchased a gun.”

We’ve seen this reported anecdotally and locally before now, particularly in Minneapolis in the immediate aftermath of the riots. Local residents wondered whether they would shortly see “World War II” in the streets of the Twin Cities, and thus far have pretty much been proven prescient. The city council’s response to the explosion of violent crime and robberies has been to tell residents to cooperate with criminals while the council comes up with a way to get rid of the police.

The rising crime levels across the country, as detailed in the Wall Street Journal’s study earlier today, no doubt has convinced many other previously reluctant Americans to exercise their right to self-defense. In the bigger cities especially, a retreat by police — fueled by local politicians’ pandering on #DefundthePolice — has made it clear that government is less interested in public safety than they are in pandering to outrage mobs. That means more and more Americans will either decide to be victims-in-waiting by default, or at least having the option to defend themselves if they so choose.

That means that more and more American voters will have a personal investment in the gun-control debate, too. How will that shape the debate and the agenda? Let’s just say that the same progressives that have pushed gun control for decades might suddenly realize that they’ve painted themselves into a corner by demanding the defunding of police — that they claim had the only legitimate claim on firearms to “defend” citizens. That circle could never be squared anyway, but that claim will ring particularly hollow after this year’s riots over law enforcement. A whole lot more Americans are personally experiencing the necessity of the Second Amendment in 2020, and that will resonate for decades.