Americans last month 2.5 million weapons were purchased, the highest number in the last two decades. Fear has always been a great help to the arms business and, now that the Government believes that up to 240,000 people can die from coronavirus, the country is full of fear. If two weeks ago there were queues In the supermarkets, this week We have seen them in armories. Compared to the same month last year, its sales have increased 85%.
It is not only that the Americans are buying more weapons, it is also that the employers’ association of the sellers confirms that the vast majority of them is doing it for the first time. People who have lived until today without a gun at home, but who now get hold of a because of fear for the coronavirus to cause a social outbreak of public disorder and criminality. Buying newbies is an added problem. Supporting arms control organizations denounce that they have not had time to learn the minimum security precautions and that their first armed days come at a difficult time: confinement increases the risk of suicide
To make things even better, it turns out that gun shops don’t close in times of confinement. The Trump government has declared that they are “essential businesses” like pharmacies, gas stations or supermarkets. It is a recommendation that states and cities do not have to follow, but some have no choice. Los Angeles Sheriff had tried to close the armories for its 10 million neighbors during the coronavirus crisis, but has backed down after Trump’s recommendation and before the threats of legal actions by the National Rifle Association (NRA). Your own experts they had told him that, before a judge, the constitutional right to have arms would prevail over concerns about the epidemic.
The gun lobby wanted the Trump administration to shield its business, and it has. The Government’s recommendation gives legal arguments to bring to trial any public office that wants to limit arms sales during this crisis and also does not stop there. Apart from declaring stores essential, it does the same with arms and ammunition factories, importers, and even shooting ranges to sharpen marksmanship. It is a good time to remember that only the National Rifle Association 90 million euros was spent in 2016 to help Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.
This rush in the sale of weapons due to the coronavirus is quite novel. Until now the experts had not detected that the great misfortunes affected the purchase figures too much, instead the political moment had weight. The biggest spike that had occurred so far occurred in January 2015, with Obama recently re-elected and the country recovering from the Sandy Hook school massacre where 20 children aged 6 to 7 were shot dead. Fearing more restrictive legislation, two million weapons were sold that month.
Although the Republicans are undoubtedly the arms lobby party, the truth is that their business goes better with the Democrats. The fear that Obama “would take our weapons away” was a powerful demand to increase sales, although in the end nothing changed. However with Trump sales had gone bad, there was no rush to get one. Now, with the coronavirus, the urge to arm has returned.
Note: there is no official data on arms sales in the US, only estimates by different experts using the FBI’s figures for the number of background tests that are required to sell new weapons or issue new licenses.