There are often unintended consequences to the actions that governments take but rarely do they occur before an administration actually takes office. The 2020 Presidential election in the United States is turning out to be a prime example of "what can go wrong, will go wrong".
Let's start by looking at this:
The Biden campaign promised the following (among others):
1.) banning the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
2.) regulate the possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act.
3.) buy back the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines already in our communities.
4.) reduce the stockpiling of weapons by limiting the number of firearms an individual may purchase to one per month.
5.) require background checks for all gun sales.
6.) reinstate the Obama-Biden policy to keep guns out of the hands of certain people that are unable to manage their affairs for mental health reasons.
7.) close the hate-crime loophole which allows an individual who has been convicted of a hate crime from possessing a firearm.
8.) end the online sale of firearms, ammunition, gun parts and kits.
Now, let's take a look at the most recent data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's monthly NICS firearms background checks:
In the month of October 2020, there were 3,305,465 background checks completed under the National Instant Criminal Background Checks System (NICS). While background checks are not the same as sales, the FBI's NICS database is a reasonable proxy for predicting gun sales. In total, so far in 2020, 32,131,914 NICS background checks have been completed, an all-time record and well above the previous record of 28, 369,750 background checks completed during all of 2019. In part, this is due to the unrest that the United States experienced during the demonstrations held in mid-2020 but I would suspect that some of this increase, particularly during October 2020, is due to the aforementioned campaign promises made by the Biden/Harris campaign.
According to calculations made by the National Shooting Sport Foundation (NSSF), nearly 5 million of these NICS checks were for first time gun owners in the first seven months of 2020 as quoted here:
"NSSF tracks the background checks associated with the sale of a firearm based on the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System (NICS). NSSF-adjusted NICS checks for January through July 2020 is a record 12.1 million, which is up 71.7 percent from the 7.1 million NSSF-adjusted NICS January through July 2019. This equates to nearly 5 million first-time gun owners in the first seven months of 2020.
“This is a tectonic shift in the firearm and ammunition industry marketplace and complete transformation of today’s gun-owning community,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President of General Counsel. “These first-time buyers represent a group of people who, until now, were agnostic regarding firearm ownership. That’s rapidly changing, and these Americans are taking hold of their God-given right to keep and bear arms and protect themselves and their loved ones.”
NSSF surveys revealed that 58 percent of firearm purchases were among African American men and women, the largest increase of any demographic group. Women comprised 40 percent of first-time gun purchasers. Retailers noted that they are seeing a 95 percent increase in firearm sales and a 139 percent increase in ammunition sales over the same period in 2019.
Several factors are contributing to the sustained surge in firearm purchases. Sales spiked in March, with a record-setting 2.3 million NICS background checks conducted for a firearm sale, the same month the coronavirus pandemic struck. During this time, police warned response times would be tested while mayors and governors emptied prisons, including violent felons. Some of those were rearrested within days for committing another violent crime. After Memorial Day, protests turned to looting, riots and destruction, which continues today in several major metropolitan areas. Politically-charged calls to defund police also continue to spur sales.
This is also an election year and firearm sales typically rise during presidential election years. However, this year, Democratic candidates Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) are calling for stringent gun control measures, including forcible confiscation, banning entire classes of firearms from lawful possession, licensing schemes and repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which would expose the firearm industry to frivolous and harassing lawsuits." (my bolds)
According to an article on the Gun and Survival website, gun buyers are worried about several issues; volatile political rhetoric, civil unrest, police brutality, Black Lives Matter and the economic decline due to the COVID-19 lockdown. According to the article, gun buyers are "…also worried about the risk of increased gun control if the Democrats win the White House".
Given that the Democrats appear to have taken control of the White House, it will be interesting to see what happens to NICS background checks during November and December of 2020 and the first half of January 2021 before the Pence Administration controls America's "gun narrative". I would be rather surprised if Biden's threats to control firearms doesn't result in record sales of guns in an already high gun ownership society.
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