Gun Sales Spike Nationally Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

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Lucas Zhang

Amidst concerns surrounding the spread of COVID-19 in the United States, sales of firearms across the country have spiked as gun stores remain open.

Lucas Zhang, Our World Editor

Gun ownership is an aspect of the American identity which ties back to the very founding of the country. Coming second only to freedom of speech, religion, press, and demonstration in the Bill of Rights, owning a gun can be seen to be as American as apple pie. The importance of the right to bear arms has been a constant facet in American society, even more so in times such as these. 

Amidst the spread of COVID-19, sales of firearms in the United States have spiked across the country. The Trump Administration has included gun stores as “essential businesses” alongside grocery stores and pharmacies, allowing vendors to keep their stores open.

Continued access to purchase firearms despite the quarantine has resulted in an uptick in acquisitions.  Analysis by the New York Times concluding that close to two million firearms were sold last month, with the FBI reporting an increase of 938,221 firearms-related background checks across the union. 

For those screened by March’s 3.7 million background checks, buying a gun is simply another precaution to aid in weathering the storm that is the COVID-19 pandemic. With the United States now hosting the greatest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, the fear of civil order collapsing has been a prime motivator for gun buyers. Calling back to the legacy of the 1992 Los Angeles riots and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the threat of degraded government control has encouraged many Americans to become armed in the face of this possibility. 

However, for others buying a gun is not an act of defense against a receding government control but instead against encroaching governmental power. With the pandemic causing state governments to exercise significant power in restricting movement to curb the spread of the virus, some people believe their freedoms are being stripped.  In turn, for these Americans; being armed is being prepared to fight against what they see as creeping tyranny. 

Meanwhile, for many newly christened Asian-American gun owners, buying a gun is another precaution in the face of rising anti-Asian-American sentiment across the country. With some attributing the spread of COVID-19 to the Asian-American community, being prepared to fight back against xenophobia has become vital for Asian Americans. 

The increased distribution of firearms across the country has not been without criticism, however. Groups in favor of increased regulation of firearms, such as Moms Demand Action, have argued that the proliferation of firearms among Americans poses an increased danger as new gun owners may be inexperienced and more prone to firearm-related accidents. 

Additional scrutiny has been placed not on the proliferation of firearms, but instead on the decision by the Trump Administration to keep gun stores open. This decision has been identified by critics as the White House bowing to the interests of gun lobbyists seeking a profit, rather than for the safety of Americans. 

The right to bear arms has been a focal point of what it is to be an American, and in tumultuous times such as these, to those who now exercise it, it is not merely the right to just bear arms, it is the right to defend life, family, and property.