As Gun Sales Boom, Background Checks Hit Record

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Joe Biden will enter the White House as the head of a political party that has been  hostile to self-defense rights, even to the point of advocating impossible-to-enforce bans on popular firearms. The opportunity has passed for the restrictions he calls “common sense reform,” contends Reason.com. In an era of political instability and distrust in government, Americans of varying political beliefs are purchasing guns in record numbers. Nine of the ten busiest weeks ever for the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)—which performs background checks for most firearms purchases from licensed dealers—occurred in 2020. While background checks don’t directly correspond to gun sales, they’re an important indicator. The year ended with a total of 39.7 million background checks, the highest annual count recorded.

The “why” of the surge in firearms purchases is no secret. January 2020 opened with a politically polarized population and the news that “nearly six in ten Americans agree that there will be protests or rioting in the United States over the next year in response to how the country is being run,” said Ipsos pollsters. Chaos got a boost when the COVID-19 pandemic started in late winter, prompting lockdowns and protests. With people already tense and at each other’s throats, police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other blacks prompted demonstrations and riots against law enforcement abuses. In some cases, police were overwhelmed and told members of the public they would have to defend themselves. Many Americans lost faith in law enforcement. “Confidence in the police fell five points to 48 percent, marking the first time in the 27-year trend that this reading is below the majority level,” Gallup noted.

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