Earlier today, Jazz noted a plaintive plea from liberal columnist Bill Scher, wondering why Democrats aren’t talking more about gun control in this election cycle. Perhaps it’s because they’re too busy buying guns and ammunition. The Star Tribune reported earlier today that the US finds itself short of both firearms and ammunition, thanks to a massive spike in demand. Sales are about to break the election-year record set in 2016, in fact.
The biggest segment for that demand comes from first-time purchasers, which leads to an interesting question:
As anxiety surges over COVID-19, civil unrest and an increasingly fractious presidential race, ammunition is proving to be in short supply across Minnesota and around the country as gun owners stock up and more people buy guns for the first time.
“Manufacturers can’t keep up with the demand anymore,” said Dave Bean, owner of Get Guns Now, an Oakdale gun shop. “The industry’s never been hit this hard before.”
Ask yourself this: are first-time firearms buyers more likely to be Republicans, or Democrats? Not every Republican owns a firearm, of course, so some might still be first-timers in the market, but many of those ended up buying a firearm during the Obama administration in response to gun-control proposals. The phenomenon became a kind of protest gesture, which meant that Democrats who supported Barack Obama were not likely to be a significant part of those sales.
If this tsunami of demand comprised only Republican first-timers, this kind of amplitude would be very unlikely:
The FBI’s National Instant Crime Background Check System in March tallied 2.3 million background checks associated with firearm sales, which is a way to measure the number of people buying guns since background checks are required with every retail gun sale. It’s the largest monthly total since record keeping began, Oliva said.
The previous presidential election year, 2016, also saw record gun sales, with 15 million background checks conducted. So far this year there have already been 13.7 million checks, with four months left to go. “We are well on pace to surpass that  record,” Oliva said.
And by the way, Minnesota isn’t exactly a GOP redoubt, and yet background checks in August jumped 59% over the same month a year earlier. Those aren’t exclusively first-timers, of course, and not exclusively Democrats. However, the demand does appear to be coming from those who worry about defunding and abolishing the police, which would tend to mean those who live in the Twin Cities and its suburban environs — normally a progressive bastion:
“[People] have seen firsthand that law enforcement is not always going to be there to protect them,” said Kevin Vick, executive vice president of Stock & Barrel Gun Club, a gun shop and range with clubs in Chanhassen and Eagan.
Dave Amon, an agent at Gunstop of Minnetonka, said demand shows no signs of slowing — especially as the national conversation around the changing role of law enforcement rages on.
“I’ve seen a lot more single moms that are scared and need something to protect them,” he said. “They’re scared when people talk about defunding the police.”
Worth noting: those three suburbs are in two congressional districts that Democrats successfully flipped in 2018, MN-02 and MN-03. Will those districts be enthusiastic about given those first-termers a return on the idea of gun control?
The sudden progressive urge to defund and/or abolish the police has completely undercut the argument for gun control. That argument explicitly relied on police as a reason why people didn’t need access to lethal means of self-defense. For decades, gun control advocates have lectured us on police response as the proper way to deal with crime and threats rather than individual action. Now that the same progressives want to either reduce or eliminate police response, what are people to do?
Pretty much what they’re doing now — stocking up on lethal force in anticipation of fewer police resources to defend the community. Progressives are learning that you can’t eat your police-abolition cake and have gun control, too. Democrats are apparently smart enough to avoid trying that in 2020. Republicans shouldn’t let them get away with it.