August 1, 2021 23:50

Gun Purchases Just Hit Record Highs-Why?


2020 ended with a total of 39.7 million background checks, the highest annual count recorded. Why?

“Government fell on its face in 2020 and left many Americans to arm themselves for self-protection amidst political turmoil and failing institutions.”

Is there a reason to be concerned about escalating guns, violence, and the lack of trust in institutions?


In 2018, the Small Arms Survey stated that U.S. civilians alone account for 393 million (about 46 percent) of the worldwide total of civilian held firearms. This amounts to 120.5 firearms for every 100 residents, Wikipedia.

Per Reason.Com (below), 2020 ended with the highest number of background checks.

Is there a reason to be concerned about escalating guns, violence, and the lack of trust in institutions?

Social Disruption

From the recent disgraceful storming of the Capitol resulting in the horrific death of a Capitol Police officer to protests-riots-looting resulting in two billion dollars in insurance claims Riot Insurance Claims to rising violent crime and fear of crime Crime in the US to the pandemic to lack of trust in government Pew to endless questions about the accuracy and reliability of the media Columbia Journalism Review, institutions seem to have lost the ability to tell the truth, to protect citizens, and to hold lawbreakers accountable.

From firearm purchases to an explosion in personal and home security purchases to people leaving cities, Americans are concerned about their safety.

We Have To Be Reminded

We have to be reminded that we have been through far tougher times when crime increased and Americans were uncertain of their security, Explaining Violence. At the beginning of the pandemic and during continued protests, Americans wondered of their day to day lives were secure. Would they get their mail? Could they go shopping? Could they drive through (or near) areas deemed violent? Will their lives be the same?

Politics and institutions have collectively scared the hell out of the public. But we’ve been through worse, much worse and we emerged with our democracy intact.

Reason.Com (quotes rearranged for brevity)

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.

Chaos got a boost when the COVID-19 pandemic dropped by for a visit in late winter, prompting prosperity-killing lockdowns and protests against the same. Many people were furious at the federal government’s conduct and/or their state governments’ policies.

With people already tense and at each other’s throats, police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other black Americans sparked demonstrations and riots against law enforcement abuses. In some cases, police were overwhelmed and told members of the public they would have to defend themselves. Along the way, many Americans lost faith in law enforcement officers. “Confidence in the police fell five points to 48%, marking the first time in the 27-year trend that this reading is below the majority level,” Gallup noted.

The cops’ ultimate bosses aren’t too popular, either. “For years, public trust in the federal government has hovered at near-record lows,” Pew Research found. “That remains the case today, as the United States struggles with a pandemic and economic recession.”

So, Americans bought guns. And they weren’t just adding to existing collections—many are new owners.

Sure enough, “Americans’ appetite for gun control is the lowest it has been since 2016,” according to Gallup. And while a large majority of Democrats still favor tighter restrictions, support has declined even in that group by five points. New gun owners, along with long-time shooters, are likely to respond to stricter gun laws with prickly defiance, Reason.Com.

Standing Down

Considering the current dysfunctional level of political discourse, rising violence and biased media coverage, buying firearms makes perfect sense to many.

It’s time for the fire-breathers on both sides of the political spectrum to stand down. I don’t care who you supported for president, endless lies from both sides are, plain and simple, hurting America.

Many Americans embrace politics as a blood sport. This has been going on for decades, especially in D.C. Every day, my inbox is filled with distorted, extreme messages from both sides. It’s time to stop offering over the top distortions. You feel that you are being a righteous American defending your left-right point of view. It’s tiresome and inflammatory.  It’s scaring people. Stop.

If people only hear of negative stories about law enforcement, the institution that most Americans see as their frontline protectors, then the rush to purchase firearms makes sense. No one is suggesting censorship, there are times when law enforcement screws up, especially when you have seconds to make possibly lethal decisions. But the deluge of negative, inflammatory articles is simply overkill. If you are capable of stereotyping a million human beings in policing, you are capable of any “ism.”

We principally get our news and analysis from mainstream media who seem to have lost the ability to tell a story without bias. It’s getting tough (impossible?)to find nonpartisan news.

Advocates on both sides remind me of pre-revolutionary patriots who would say and do anything anything to overthrow British rule. They succeeded. They got the war they wanted when people were uncertain of their loyalties. Is that what we want now?

Stranding Up

Per the #MeToo movement, Americans want justice and accountability for abusers and violent criminals. Ninety percent of the discourse focuses on criminal justice reform. While reform is a valid discussion, victims need the country to stand up for them. If there was more accountability for those who destroy lives and communities, possibly there wouldn’t be an insatiable need for guns.

Conclusions-Stop Scaring America

America, we’ve been through much tougher times. I don’t care if you own firearms as long as you know how to use them and your legal responsibilities. That’s your Constitutional right. But we need to be responsible. We are a nation of laws. We are (or were) an example of political stability to the world. Buy all the legally available guns you want, but politics and firearms are lethal to any cause.

Regardless of recent criticisms, law enforcement remains one of the country’s most trusted institutions (far exceeding the media and Congress). They can’t be at your emergency instantaneously, but they will come and they will risk their lives to protect you regardless of who you are.

We need to remember that however disgraceful the storming of the Capitol was, and however disheartening the protests-riots-lootings were, the overwhelming percentage of Americans live in relative peace. Yes, they are concerned about overheated political rhetoric. Yes, they wonder where they can find objective coverage of the news, but by and large, people remain safe and secure.

But we simply cannot allow distrust in institutions to continue. To the new administration, for the love of God, be judicious. We are currently a split country. Overheated politics are not in our best interest. Stop being inflammatory.

To the media, stop being so partisan or label most newspaper articles or media reports as editorials, which is what they currently are. It’s time to check your prejudices and reembrace journalistic ethics, which was standard operating policy not long ago.

To law enforcement, we have to do better. We have to be better.

It’s time for Americans on both sides to start being respectful of people who don’t support your form of politics or protest. We need to start being the adults in the room.

See More

More articles are available on the 2020 pandemic and crime at COVID and Crime.

See more articles on crime and justice at Crime in America.

Most Dangerous Cities/States/Countries at Most Dangerous Cities.

US Crime Rates at Nationwide Crime Rates.

National Offender Recidivism Rates at Offender Recidivism.

The Crime in America.Net RSS feed ( provides subscribers with a means to stay informed about the latest news, publications, and other announcements from the site.


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