Time to Buy a Gun?

by James A. Bacon

I’ve never owned a gun. The last time I shot a rifle, using a 22 for target practice, was about 55 years ago when I was a kid. Guns always made me nervous. I don’t hunt — I don’t like killing animals. Besides, I felt I was far more likely to accidentally shoot my foot off than ever need a weapon for self defense. Now I’m reconsidering.

Apparently, a lot of other Virginians are, too. Virginia gun sales set a record in June, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Estimated firearms sales, based on mandatory criminal background checks, reached 81,204. That’s a 157% increase over the number of transactions in June last year.

Much of the traffic is driven by gun owners stocking up on more weaponry. But Joshua Jennings, owner of Guns, Gear & Ammo in the Danville-Martinsville area estimates that one in ten are first-time buyers. “We’ve had some unusual buys, and what I mean by that is buyers who ordinarily would not statistically be likely to enter a gun store.”

“Civil unrest, rioting, looting and calls to defund the police are unquestionably motivating factors of why this trend is increasing,” Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told the Associated Press. “Americans are right to be concerned about their personal safety.”

Here in the Richmond area, there isn’t any noticeable uptick in violent crime or burglary — at least not as reported in the City of Richmond police statistics, and the city is where most violent crime in the region occurs. Most violence associated with the protests here in Virginia has been low-level, vandalism mainly, with a spike in looting and occasional assault at the height of the George Floyd protests. Richmond isn’t Seattle. It isn’t Portland. It isn’t Chicago.

Yet… who know where things are heading? When the Commonwealth of Virginia orders a construction site to take down an American flag to avoid provoking leftist demonstrators, it’s not entirely clear which side “law enforcement” is on. Better safe than sorry.