New gun owners are unlikely to embrace disarmament schemes from a government they distrust. The efforts to impose gun control measures will be first and foremost of the next administration. We will have to fight harder to ensure their efforts fail.
Joe Biden will enter the White House this month at the head of a political party that in recent years has been overtly hostile to self-defense rights, even to the point of advocating impossible-to-enforce bans on popular firearms. But the opportunity has passed for the restrictions he peddles as “common sense reforms.” In an era of political instability and distrust in government, Americans of varying political beliefs are purchasing guns in record numbers. And those millions of new weapons and their owners are bound to remain beyond the reach of politicians’ wish lists of restrictive laws.
Nine of the ten busiest weeks ever for the FBI-administered National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)—which performs background checks for most firearms purchases from licensed dealers—occurred in 2020. While background checks don’t directly correspond to gun sales since they can be used for other purposes or for multiple simultaneous purchases, they’re an important indicator. The year ended with a total of 39.7 million background checks, the highest annual count recorded.
The “why” of the surge in firearms purchases is no secret in a year that seems drawn from the plot of an apocalyptic novel. January of 2020 opened with a politically polarized population and the news that “nearly six in ten Americans agree that there will be protests or rioting in the United States over the next year in response to how the country is being run,” according to Ipsos pollsters. They were right, though for unpredictable reasons.