Firearms dealers around the US have reported increasing numbers of Americans who’ve decided to pack heat amid the social unrest and violent protests that followed the police-custody death of George Floyd, according to a report.
Contributing to the sense of possible impending anarchy is the “Defund Police” movement, which calls for reallocating money earmarked for law enforcement into social service programs, CNN Business reported.
“Anything that can cause people to feel unsafe in relation to possible physical crime to self, others and property can drive firearm sales,” Rob Southwick, founder of the market research firm Southwick Associates, told the outlet.
The gun industry analyst cited the sometimes violent protests, riots and looting that followed Floyd’s death in Minneapolis for the spike in sales of firearms and ammunition.
In March, background checks for gun purchases reached an all-time high — and records also were set in April and May, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, CNN Business reported.
Among first-time buyers, semi-automatic pistols outpaced shotguns by a 2-to-1 margin as the weapon of choice, according to the firearms trade group.
Since Floyd’s death on May 25, gun sellers have reported a sales jump similar to the one caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which spurred fears of a societal breakdown, NSSF spokesman Mark Oliva told CNN Business.
“You’re seeing a reaction to people’s concerns about being able to provide safety for themselves and the ones that they love,” he said.
More than 6.5 million background checks were conducted from Jan. 1 through April 30, according to the foundation, which showed a 48 percent year-over-year increase from the same period last year.
Gun retailers surveyed by the group in May estimated that 40 percent of their sales came from first-time buyers — and that 40 percent of that group was composed of women.
“People are coming off the fences and the sidelines and they’re making decisions with their wallets about where they are in this debate about firearms ownership,” Oliva told CNN.
In Illinois, meanwhile, more than 40,000 people applied for a gun permit in just over two weeks this month — more than 500 percent higher than during the same period last year, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing state police.
Business has been booming at Mark Glavin’s gun shop in Elgin, where he sold an average of 10 guns a day in 2019 and as many as 200 a day this year, the newspaper reported.
“Take a full glass of coronavirus, shake in a shot of riots and another of this defund police notion, and everything goes crazy,” said Glavin, who owns the Fox Valley Shooting Range. “Not to mention the backlog on background checks.”
Noam Ostrander, an associate professor of social work at DePaul University who has vast experience working with victims of gun violence and police brutality in Chicago, said there’s usually “an uptick in gun purchases around elections and major tragedies.”
“We saw, certainly, people buying a lot of guns after Barack Obama was elected because people thought, ‘Oh my God, they’re going to take away my guns,’” Ostrander told the Tribune.
“And we saw a strong rise in gun ownership among black Americans after Trump was elected because there was a witnessing of an emboldening of white supremacist groups and, I think, a fear,” he said.
“There’s two big predictors of gun ownership — not sport-type rifle owners — but among new gun owners usually, and that is perceived risk of victimization and then a belief that the world is a dangerous place,” Ostrander added.
“And if we dig into that second one, right, the world does look like a dangerous place right now.”