New FBI stats counter the media's anti-gun culture war

A liberal media "eager to find a tipping point in the gun debate" declare that Second Amendment-supporters "are losing the culture war against guns" and that gun sales are "plummeting" because "Americans don't buy gun control threats."  But the FBI's new report on firearms background checks contradicts that media narrative.

Background checks for February 2018 reached the second-highest February level ever, even exceeding the February 2013 level reached after President Obama issued 23 executive orders on gun safety as a response to the Newton, Conn. shooting. 

February 2018 background check numbers were exceeded only by February 2016, when Hillary Clinton, who had previously advocated "an Australian-style" "gun buyback," was the frontrunner for president.  And February 2018 results were all but completed when President Trump made comments in a meeting with lawmakers that unnerved Second Amendment-supporters on the last day of the month.

Statistics on firearm background checks, it should be noted, "do not represent the number of firearms sold, as the FBI says, but are viewed as a proxy estimate for actual gun sales numbers.

The media campaign to promote new gun controls and demoralize Second Amendment-supporters has featured such recent headlines as:

  • "Conservatives are losing the culture war over guns"
  • "Trump gun slump: Sales plummet as Americans don't buy gun control threats"
  • "'Trump slump' for gun sales isn't reversing"
  • "Thanks To 'Trump Slump,' shops have more guns than buyers"

Peter Beinart's culture war column at theatlantic.com cites corporations cutting ties with the NRA, along with the CNN town hall booing of NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, to make that case "Americans' attitudes" toward guns "are changing."  Beinart may be describing the intent, rather than the result, of the media campaign:

Even when conservatives win elections and pass laws, they look at the trend among cultural elites – the media, Hollywood, universities, even corporations – and feel like they're losing.

But could it be the cultural elites who are losing?  The FBI report also indicates that by the end of this year, there will have been more than 300 million background checks in the twenty years of record-keeping.  Americans like firearms, and they like them more than ever, no matter what the cultural elites want us to think.

Two anecdotal accounts from recent gun shows illustrate another trend (emphasis added):

At a Tampa, FL gun show one vendor "estimated that only 10 percent of gun show shoppers were firearms aficionados.  The rest, he said, are either newcomers or dabblers." 

And at a Waukesha, WI gun show a vendor said "I think a lot of new buyers do come into the market as soon as it's in the news.  They're going well maybe I should go get one before they ban them."

One could argue that the media culture war campaign is having the opposite effect of that intended: Alana Abramson at time.com writes that "membership in the NRA and gun rights groups across the country ... is spiking."

Abramson quotes the head of Georgia Gun Owners, who says, "As soon as anti-gun attacks started coming in on Twitter, Facebook, and in the media, we began to hear from people who didn't even own guns who wanted to join up or contribute out of solidarity in defense of the Second Amendment to the Constitution." 

The head of the Nevada Firearms Coalition says: "Gun owners themselves weren't being demonized [after Las Vegas], [b]ut after the Florida shooting, there was a definite push to demonize honest gun owners and to demonize the NRA.  And I think that's what's provoked their response."

Describing the post-Florida increase in gun control activism, Abramson quotes an NRA board member who says:

We've never had this level of opposition before, not ever.  It's a campaign of lies and distortion, but it's very well funded and they are playing on the sympathy factor of kids getting killed.

The time.com piece gives the last word to Shannon Watts, "the founder of Moms Demand Action," who, in another case of projection by the left, says of "the gun lobby" what really applies to the anti-gun movement:

They specialize in exploiting shooting tragedies.

A liberal media "eager to find a tipping point in the gun debate" declare that Second Amendment-supporters "are losing the culture war against guns" and that gun sales are "plummeting" because "Americans don't buy gun control threats."  But the FBI's new report on firearms background checks contradicts that media narrative.

Background checks for February 2018 reached the second-highest February level ever, even exceeding the February 2013 level reached after President Obama issued 23 executive orders on gun safety as a response to the Newton, Conn. shooting. 

February 2018 background check numbers were exceeded only by February 2016, when Hillary Clinton, who had previously advocated "an Australian-style" "gun buyback," was the frontrunner for president.  And February 2018 results were all but completed when President Trump made comments in a meeting with lawmakers that unnerved Second Amendment-supporters on the last day of the month.

Statistics on firearm background checks, it should be noted, "do not represent the number of firearms sold, as the FBI says, but are viewed as a proxy estimate for actual gun sales numbers.

The media campaign to promote new gun controls and demoralize Second Amendment-supporters has featured such recent headlines as:

  • "Conservatives are losing the culture war over guns"
  • "Trump gun slump: Sales plummet as Americans don't buy gun control threats"
  • "'Trump slump' for gun sales isn't reversing"
  • "Thanks To 'Trump Slump,' shops have more guns than buyers"

Peter Beinart's culture war column at theatlantic.com cites corporations cutting ties with the NRA, along with the CNN town hall booing of NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, to make that case "Americans' attitudes" toward guns "are changing."  Beinart may be describing the intent, rather than the result, of the media campaign:

Even when conservatives win elections and pass laws, they look at the trend among cultural elites – the media, Hollywood, universities, even corporations – and feel like they're losing.

But could it be the cultural elites who are losing?  The FBI report also indicates that by the end of this year, there will have been more than 300 million background checks in the twenty years of record-keeping.  Americans like firearms, and they like them more than ever, no matter what the cultural elites want us to think.

Two anecdotal accounts from recent gun shows illustrate another trend (emphasis added):

At a Tampa, FL gun show one vendor "estimated that only 10 percent of gun show shoppers were firearms aficionados.  The rest, he said, are either newcomers or dabblers." 

And at a Waukesha, WI gun show a vendor said "I think a lot of new buyers do come into the market as soon as it's in the news.  They're going well maybe I should go get one before they ban them."

One could argue that the media culture war campaign is having the opposite effect of that intended: Alana Abramson at time.com writes that "membership in the NRA and gun rights groups across the country ... is spiking."

Abramson quotes the head of Georgia Gun Owners, who says, "As soon as anti-gun attacks started coming in on Twitter, Facebook, and in the media, we began to hear from people who didn't even own guns who wanted to join up or contribute out of solidarity in defense of the Second Amendment to the Constitution." 

The head of the Nevada Firearms Coalition says: "Gun owners themselves weren't being demonized [after Las Vegas], [b]ut after the Florida shooting, there was a definite push to demonize honest gun owners and to demonize the NRA.  And I think that's what's provoked their response."

Describing the post-Florida increase in gun control activism, Abramson quotes an NRA board member who says:

We've never had this level of opposition before, not ever.  It's a campaign of lies and distortion, but it's very well funded and they are playing on the sympathy factor of kids getting killed.

The time.com piece gives the last word to Shannon Watts, "the founder of Moms Demand Action," who, in another case of projection by the left, says of "the gun lobby" what really applies to the anti-gun movement:

They specialize in exploiting shooting tragedies.