NYT: First-time firearms owner demand spike is real, and it's spectacular

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

“Usually it slows down,” a firearms researcher told the New York Times. “But this just kept going.” Not only have firearms sales grown rapidly over the last year, but new research shows that it’s not just existing gun owners adding to their inventory. The explosion in new owners will create a big problem for Democrats (via RedState):

While gun sales have been climbing for decades — they often spike in election years and after high-profile crimes — Americans have been on an unusual, prolonged buying spree fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, the protests last summer and the fears they both stoked.

In March last year, federal background checks, a rough proxy for purchases, topped one million in a week for the first time since the government began tracking them in 1998. And the buying continued, through the protests in the summer and the election in the fall, until a week this spring broke the record with 1.2 million background checks. …

Not only were people who already had guns buying more, but people who had never owned one were buying them too. New preliminary data from Northeastern University and the Harvard Injury Control Research Center show that about a fifth of all Americans who bought guns last year were first-time gun owners. And the data, which has not been previously released, showed that new owners were less likely than usual to be male and white. Half were women, a fifth were Black and a fifth were Hispanic.

There’s the rub for Democrats. Pressing for gun control got them in trouble in the 1990s, and again in the Obama administration, even when they could paint gun ownership as predominantly a white-male phenomenon. That was a false picture, of course, but that’s even more so today as firearms sales become even more obviously diverse. Gun ownership has increased by seven points by households in five years, according to one survey, which means more voters are personally invested in Second Amendment issues than ever before.

Democrats have essentially catalyzed this expansion over the past year through their own rhetoric. In an attempt to jump onto the Black Lives Matter bandwagon a year ago, the party and many of its leadership either played footsie with the “defund the police” movement or explicitly supported it. As crime rates skyrocketed and police retreated, more people saw the necessity of preparing their options for self-defense. It’s no accident that half of all new sales went to women and that sales to blacks and Hispanics exceeded their proportion of the population. The perceived risk is undoubtedly greater in urban areas, and sales follow accordingly.

They’re already preparing to pay a price for that disconnect. Democrats should easily win a special election to replace former Rep. Deb Haaland (now Interior Secretary) in New Mexico, but “defund the police” might make it a lot closer than it should be in the D+9 NM-01:

This Albuquerque-based seat, vacated by Deb Haaland after she was confirmed as interior secretary, is deep-blue territory; Biden won it by 23 points in 2020. Democrats are confident they will hold the seat, as internal polling that shows Stansbury, a state representative, with a comfortable lead. Neither campaign committee nor any major outside group is spending money in the race — a sign that there’s little upset potential here.

But the margin still could be telling. And if this race is any indication, Democrats are still grappling with how to address the GOP’s attempt to paint them as radical on issues of policing. …

Moores has centered his campaign entirely on Albuquerque’s rising crime rate, zeroing in on Stansbury’s initial expression of support for the BREATHE Act, a sweeping policing reform proposal authored by activists affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement. Addressing a crowd of mostly women at the El Pinto restaurant here, Moores described Stansbury’s endorsement of the proposal as nothing short of a gift to his campaign. “I pulled it up,” he said of the activists’ website, “and my mouth hit the floor.”

On the stump, he implores voters to go to breatheact.org — and, in case they don’t, he’s happy to rattle off some of the bill’s contents. It calls for the elimination of Border Patrol and ICE, the dismantling of local police and the emptying of federal prisons. At a recent debate, he brought the husband of a murdered woman, Jacqueline Vigil, as his guest.

If firearms sales is any indication, people are not inclined to trust Democrats on policing or gun control at this point. Leading Democrats have never explained the inherent contradiction of their messaging that says that police are sufficient to protect us without firearms AND we don’t actually need police. Add in the rapidly spiking rates of violent crime, and a perfect storm is forming against Democrats’ hypocrisy on public safety and self-defense.

It’s that hypocrisy that is likely feeding the surge in first-time firearms ownership. Good luck convincing those voters to part with their option for personal defense.