True enough, but it’s not likely the violence and uncertainty the Washington Post suggests. Firearm sales, as estimated from background-check data, soared to the second-highest month on record in January, which the Post chalks up to Joe Biden’s win and the Capitol riot. Their own chart belies that interpretation:
More than 2 million firearms were bought last month, according to The Washington Post’s analysis of federal gun background-check data. That is an 80 percent year-over-year spike and the second-highest one-month total on record.
Background checks, and sales of firearms and ammunition, have been increasing pace for months. The surge is in line with the record pace set in 2020: Nearly 23 million firearms were bought, representing a 64 percent jump year over year.
It takes six paragraphs and a personal anecdote before the Post gets to the real spike events in firearms sales:
Estimated firearm purchases climbed to an unprecedented 2.1 million in March, early in the coronavirus pandemic when cities and states issued stay-at-home orders to contain the spread of the deadly disease. Panic-buying was common, with Americans hoarding toilet paper, diapers and cleaning supplies amid the widespread uncertainty.
The killing of George Floyd set off a summer of racial-justice protests and prompted retailers in some cities to board up windows. Firearms sales went even higher, to 2.8 million in June and 2.5 million in July. Walmart removed gun and ammunition displays from thousands of its U.S. stores.
So the Post’s headline is correct — just not about which violence and political uncertainty. The incoming Biden administration might account for some new demand, perhaps in the long-barrel firearm categories that the new president seems likeliest to target. The Republican loss of Senate control might account for that spike occurring in January rather than November or December, however, as the GOP will have a tougher time keeping such legislation off the floor now.
The real violence and uncertainty driving these sales isn’t taking place in Washington DC — it’s the violence and uncertainty in every city in America. Police are retreating as local and national politicians push “defund the police” agendas, and violent crime is filling those gaps. Law-abiding citizens across the political spectrum are beginning to realize that the likelihood of having to defend themselves from violent criminals is rising rapidly, and they are taking rational steps to prepare themselves for those possibilities.
Until these cities take steps to restore order and peace, those sales figures will keep rising. And the longer that Democrats continue to argue both that we need fewer police and that police should approve who gets to defend themselves, the more that demand will price Democrats out of the political market. In the long run, they can’t have it both ways.