The good news about guns in America

Once upon a time, as a Democrat who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was such an anti-gun fanatic that I donated to the Brady Campaign. Thankfully, I saw the light after Hurricane Katrina (when seconds counted, the police were days away), and have made up for my past bad judgment by being an NRA member, using my writing abilities to promote the Second Amendment, and helping the bottom line at several local gun stores. That’s why it gladdens my heart to tell you one of the good things about 2020: It was a banner year for gun sales!

When it comes to guns, the anti-gun crowd lacks imagination. To them, guns exist for one purpose: To murder people or, occasionally, to kill people accidentally. If you take away guns, they “reason,” you will take away murder and accidental deaths.

People with a deeper and more nuanced understanding support the Second Amendment because they understand that guns don’t commit murders or cause accidents. They are tools and lack agency. People who want to murder someone will commit murder with or without guns. And people who are careless can always kill someone else with everyday objects (e.g., cars, wine bottles, etc.).

While guns lack agency, they confer empowering agency on the people who hold them. Having a gun allows people to oppose oppressive government, as happened during the American Revolution. Guns give women the ability to fight back against predators bigger and stronger than they are. Guns allow people to defend themselves and their property when the civil government collapses, as happened after Hurricane Katrina. Guns allow ordinary people to make crime too costly for criminals. Guns allow good people to take down the bad guys quickly in what can otherwise become a mass shooting situation. Guns give those far from grocery stores the ability to feed themselves. And as sports enthusiasts know, guns are fun when used safely and appropriately.

Guns work in a society that has more good people than bad. And despite the “if it bleeds it leads” approach that has characterized the American media for more than 100 years, and that has escalated appallingly in the last 20 years, most Americans are good people. They are infinitely more likely to defend each other than to kill each other.

In 2020, Americans were reminded that civil unrest is another good reason to keep and bear arms. The Democrats were waiting for an opportunity to attack the police and George Floyd’s drug overdose while in police custody was the spark they needed. Leftist Americans took to the streets. And while it’s true that many George Floyd marches were polite affairs (usually in places with Republican governance), marches in Democrat-run enclaves more than offset the constitutionally peaceful protests.

Upon seeing mass marches followed by riots, followed by looting, followed by maddened crowds descending on residential neighborhoods, Americans did the only logical thing: They put their Second Amendment right to practical use and stocked up. Just the News reports:

Gun-buying activity shattered records in the U.S. this year, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation recording both the highest number of background checks in its history and the highest increase of checks year-over-year in over two decades. 

Last month was the busiest November on record for FBI background checks in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, according to the Bureau's month-by-month data. Background checks were up 40% from the prior November, with over 3.6 million checks performed throughout the month. 

That number would be remarkable during any other year. Only one other month in NICS history, December 2015, has broken three million. Yet November was only the fourth-busiest month for background checks during 2020 overall. In June, the FBI recorded 3,931,607 total checks, nearly topping 4,000,000 checks in a month for the first time and handily beating the previous monthly record of 3,740,688 checks set in March. 

(There’s lots more about new gun ownership in America, here.)

The downside of this orgy of buying has been an irritating and expensive ammo shortage, but the market is beginning to sort itself out.

This huge increase in the number of legal guns in American hands is a good thing: It means that God forbid Biden-Harris get into the White House, the American people will push back against any anti-gun initiatives. An example of that pushback happened just before Christmas when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives withdrew a guidance targeting AR-15 pistol braces, bringing them under the restrictive National Firearms Act.

Congratulations if you’ve exercised your Second Amendment right for the first time. Now you need to protect that investment by joining a gun rights organization. Otherwise, you may discover that your right to defend yourself against all comers, including a government gone rogue, can vanish overnight.

IMAGE: Americans at the Battle of Lexington 1775 by William Barnes Wollen (1910). Public Domain.