Across the country, Americans are still struggling to find basic staples at their local grocery stores. Items like toilet paper and hand sanitizer are in short supply; basic foods like produce, chicken, and ground beef are scarcer than usual; and even sales of alcohol have shot up nearly 50% as people hunker down and prepare to endure what could be a very tough few months.
But according to the FBI’s Criminal Background Check numbers, there’s another item that Americans are rushing to purchase: Firearms. According to those statistics, which are a decent, if imperfect, measure of total gun sales in the United States, the FBI ran more than 3.7 million checks in March as Americans decided that now would be an excellent time to exercise their Second Amendment rights. The March numbers built on an already enormous February for gun sales in which 2.8 million background checks were processed. Both numbers are a dramatic increase from 2019.
With the economy quickly running to shambles in the wake of the coronavirus, Americans are understandably concerned about what might happen if there is a systemic collapse over the coming weeks and months.
“People are nervous that there’s a certain amount of civil disorder that might come if huge numbers of people are sick and a huge number of institutions are not operating normally,” Georgia State University Professor Timothy Lytton told The New York Times. “They may have an anxiety about protecting themselves if the organs of state are starting to erode.”
Uh, ya think?
We’re not necessarily practiced in the art of “prepping” or panicking over this particular pandemic, but you can’t deny that the indicators right now are…well, they’re not good. They’re not good from a variety of perspectives. There’s the virus itself, which is troubling enough. Then there is the economy, which is practically falling off a cliff with nearly 10 million Americans filing for unemployment in the last two weeks alone. Then there is the response, which could easily veer into the realm of unconstitutionality, if it hasn’t already. And so on.
Yes, we’d say at a time like this, owning a gun is not the worst idea. We’d be shocked to see this crisis tumble into a full-scale systemic collapse, but we don’t need things to get anywhere near that bad to see crime rise and state-sponsored security lapse. What did we just read – some 15% of the NYPD is out sick? Imagine that kind of rate (or worse) happening around the country. What will that do to crime rates? More to the point, what will that do to response times if you find yourself in a home defense situation?
The rush to hoard hundreds of rolls of toilet paper still baffles us, but the impulse to get armed? That makes perfect sense.