[Reuters]—— 44-year-old single mother Andreya Garland lives with her three daughters in Fishkill, New York, a quaint middle-class city. In May of this year, she bought a shotgun for her self-defense and joined a new local shooting club to learn how to shoot. The size of the club is expanding rapidly.
After that, I applied for a permit to own a pistol, and I am always watching for ammunition that is becoming increasingly scarce. She goes to her local Wal-Mart three times a week, but “always out of stock,” she says.
This year, the US firearms industry has achieved record sales, supported by a large number of first-time gun buyers like Garland. Part of the reason she decided to buy firearms was the overlap of disturbing news. Pandemics caused by the new coronavirus, social unrest over the killing of blacks by police, and many are worried that the controversy over the outcome of the “election” will lead to violence.
“Given everything around you,” Garland says. “I think I need a gun.”
According to federal firearm buyer background survey data, the surge in firearm sales in the United States over the last few decades is not close to the tightening of gun control, including the birth of a Democratic president and the frequent shootings. It was a predictable move triggered by an incident that caused concern.
According to industry experts and researchers specializing in firearms issues, this surge is primarily driven by politically conservative white men, who are the core customers of the firearms industry, and already have one or more firearms. Often owned.
However, when Reuters interviewed more than a dozen industry experts, researchers, and gun shop owners, it was thought that women, minorities, and politically liberals would own guns to expand this year’s market. It was said that it included a new influx of first-time buyers, such as those who didn’t.
“People who don’t usually think about guns are forced to think seriously about things outside their territory,” said the gun shop Maxon Shooters Surprise in Des Plaines, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois.・ Dan Eldridge who runs “And Indoor Range”.
Smith & Wesson Brands, an industry analyst, trade association, and even a major firearms makerSWBI.OAccording to CEO Mark Peter Smith, the number of first-time buyers has skyrocketed this year.
CEO Smith said in an online meeting with investors on September 3 that about 40% of this year’s sales will be the first customers to buy firearms. This is still a conservative forecast, he said, which is “twice the national average” of the past few years.
Sportsman’s Warehouse HoldingsSPWH.OJohn Baker, CEO, said at an online conference on September 2 that 5 million people across the firearms industry purchased their first firearms in January-July this year. This figure is also consistent with recent figures released by the National Rifle Association of Japan, an industry group, based on a national survey of retailers.
WalmartWMT.NIn response to Reuters, he admitted that outdoor equipment, including hunting-related items, was in short supply, but did not provide details on sales and inventory of firearms and ammunition. “We are working with our suppliers to deliver products to our customers as quickly as possible,” Wal-Mart said.
Bailey Bieken, 61, from Riverdale, New York, who bought the first firearm, says she is a politically liberal middle-class white woman. She says she started taking shooting lessons this summer. Her reason is that “no matter which way the election results fall, a terrible and bloody catastrophe can occur.”
With the pandemic as an opportunity, mask wearers and people protesting the obligation to wear masks are in conflict, and protests against police atrocities cause violent clashes on the streets. “There is,” says Bieken.
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Neither the firearm manufacturer nor the government has released detailed data on firearm sales or demographics of buyers. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s National Criminal Record Instant Inquiry System (NICS), which is widely used as an alternative data, the number of inquiries from January to September this year was the highest in history at the same time in 2019. It has increased by 41%. By the end of September, the number of background checks was 28.8 million, breaking the record of 28.4 million last year.
The background check confirms that the prospective purchaser does not have any criminal records, arrest warrant claims, records of drug addiction, or other issues that deny the eligibility to purchase weapons. According to FBI data, less than 1% of permit applicants are rejected.
According to NICS data dating back to 1998, eight of the top ten weeks of background checks were recorded this year. The leader is March, the week when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic of the new coronavirus. June was the most frequent month of the year, after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police at the end of May.
Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger, the top two US firearm manufacturersRGR.NShare prices have risen 131% and 59%, respectively, this year. We asked both companies for comment, but both are refraining from responding.
Record-high sales conditions are adding millions more weapons to the United States, which already has more guns than the total population. The Geneva-based Small Arms Survey estimates that the number of US firearms is 393 million as of 2017. This is the number that overwhelms India (71 million) and China (nearly 50 million), but both countries have four times the population of the United States.
While there is growing concern about violent street clashes associated with political turmoil, researchers say the surge in firearm sales could make firearm deaths even more commonplace. .. Harvard University professor David Hemunway says there is undeniable evidence that the purchase of firearms greatly increases the risk of suicide at home, accidental fire, and violence against partners.
“It’s pretty clear that more guns will kill more,” said Professor Hemunway, director of the University’s Center for Injury Control, which studies injury prevention.
Firearms shop owners and shooting club leaders interviewed report a sharp rise in interest among those who had never thought about possessing a gun. It is often different from the traditional customer base of the firearms industry, which is a conservative white man.
Garland, who bought the gun for the first time, is a black woman, registered as a Democrat, and voted for Barack Obama. On the other hand, she has expressed her deep dissatisfaction with both the Democratic and Republican parties, and she has not decided where to vote in the November presidential election. The Hudson Valley Nubian Shooting Club, which is newly established but is expanding rapidly, has about 125 members, including Garland. More than half of the members are women, and more than two-thirds, including founder Damon Finch, are black.
According to Finch, the club was launched in March of this year, when the pandemic began, and after the murder of George Floyd, there was a lot of interest again. He says he receives 15 phone calls and emails every day about joining clubs and training in the safe handling of guns. Many are such questions. “What should I do with a gun if I have to protect my family?”
Eugene Buff, a Boston innovation consultant, is Jewish and politically conservative. He received a similar reaction this summer when he posted on Facebook that he was a qualified gun instructor.
The classroom I held for the first time was filled with reservations in no time. Most were elderly Jewish citizens who were concerned about their safety due to mass shootings and pandemics at the synagogue. “Many of them don’t like guns and are afraid,” Buff said, but now he feels more about the need to protect himself than fear of guns.
Traditionally, the largest group of guns in the United States has been overwhelmingly white men. According to a 2017 survey conducted by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, nearly half of white men in the United States have guns, compared to about a quarter of non-white men.
In an interview with Reuters, three academic experts studying the firearms industry said there wasn’t enough data to see if the rush to buy guns had caused such a major change in demographic composition. rice field.
But Florida State University professor Benjamin Daudaro, a public health professor, says there is no doubt that the deep political and racial divisions that have occurred during this turbulent year are accelerating firearm sales. During these tense times, gun buyers, regardless of ideology, position themselves as “good guys” to protect themselves from “bad guys.”
“That is, every’good man’needs to go buy a gun,” says Professor Daud Arrow.
According to Eldridge, who runs a shooting range and gun-related equipment store in the suburbs of Chicago, recent events, coupled with concerns about gun control when the Democratic Party comes to power in the upcoming elections, are traditional customers. It is said that the purchase of guns is increasing even among the layers.
Eldridge’s area is the center of firearm purchases in the United States. For one thing, the proliferation of violence in Chicago has led to an increase in incitement political discourse about its causes. As of the end of September, the number of background checks on gun buyers in Illinois was 5.6 million, the highest in the country, more than double the number of second place.
By the way, the number of background checks in Illinois for the whole of 2019 was 4.9 million, and in 2018 it was 2.8 million.
“People live in high-rise condominiums and see the Walgreens stores they go to every day being looted,” Eldridge said.