In July 2018, US gun sales hit over one million for the 43rd straight month, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Despite the growing outcry for gun control, Americans are still flocking to gun shops across the country to purchase firearms.
The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) reported 1,984,528 background checks in July 2018 alone, a slight decrease from the previous month’s record of 2,223,213 checks. However, this figure includes all types of background checks, not just those conducted for gun sales. The actual number of guns sold in July is estimated to be around 1.2 million, according to industry analysts.
This trend of high gun sales has been ongoing for almost four years now. The last time there was a consecutive 43-month stretch of more than one million background checks was from November 1998 to July 2002, during the Clinton-era push for gun control.
Gun sales normally spike after mass shootings because people fear for their safety and want to protect themselves. However, the recent trend shows that gun sales are not just spiking after tragedies, but remain consistently high. This suggests that there are other factors driving this trend.
One possible factor is the current political climate in the US. The Trump administration has been supportive of gun rights and the National Rifle Association (NRA), leading some Americans to fear that their access to guns could be restricted in the future. As a result, many gun enthusiasts are taking advantage of the current administration’s leniency on gun laws to stockpile firearms.
Another factor driving the trend is the gun industry’s marketing tactics. Gun manufacturers and industry lobbyists often push the narrative that owning a gun is a necessary tool for self-defense, and that the only way to counteract the threat of gun violence is to have more guns in circulation. This fear-based marketing strategy is effective in convincing people to buy guns, even if they don’t necessarily need them.
Additionally, there is a cultural aspect to the high rates of gun ownership in the US. Guns are deeply ingrained in American culture, with many Americans viewing gun ownership as a fundamental right and a way to protect their homes and families. This belief is reinforced by the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, which guarantees the right to bear arms.
Despite the high levels of gun ownership in the US, there is growing concern about gun violence in the country. The US has seen a number of high-profile mass shootings in recent years, including the Las Vegas shooting in October 2017, which killed 58 people, and the Parkland, Florida shooting in February 2018, which killed 17 people, mostly teenagers.
These tragedies have reignited the gun control debate in the US, with many Democrats and gun control advocates calling for stricter gun laws, including background checks on all gun sales and a ban on assault weapons.
However, the NRA and other gun rights advocates argue that stricter gun laws would infringe on Americans’ Second Amendment rights and would not solve the problem of gun violence, as many criminals obtain guns illegally anyway.
Instead, the NRA advocates for greater access to guns, arguing that the solution to gun violence is more “good guys with guns” who can defend themselves and others in case of an attack.
The problem with this argument is that there is little evidence to support it. Studies have shown that more guns do not necessarily lead to less crime, and that owning a gun actually increases the risk of violence in the home. In fact, the US has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world, but also one of the highest rates of gun violence.
Furthermore, there are concerns that the high levels of gun ownership in the US make it easier for those who shouldn’t have access to guns, such as criminals and the mentally ill, to obtain firearms.
The NICS background check system is designed to prevent these people from buying guns, but it is not foolproof. In some cases, people who should not have access to guns have been able to purchase them legally, either because of loopholes in the system or because their criminal or mental health histories were not properly reported.
There is broad public support for stronger gun control measures in the US. According to a recent poll by Pew Research Center, around 68% of Americans support background checks on all gun sales, and 71% support red flag laws that allow authorities to temporarily confiscate guns from people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others.
However, the political will to pass such measures is lacking, due in part to the powerful lobbying efforts of the NRA and other gun rights groups.
This political stalemate has left many Americans feeling frustrated and helpless, as they see the country’s gun violence epidemic continue unabated.
In the absence of meaningful action on the federal level, some state and local governments have taken matters into their own hands by passing their own gun control laws. For example, after the Parkland shooting, Florida passed a new law that raised the minimum age to buy a gun to 21, banned bump stocks, and allowed some teachers to carry guns on school grounds.
However, even these measures have faced legal challenges from the NRA and other gun rights groups.
The fact remains that the high rates of gun sales in the US, and the country’s deeply ingrained gun culture, make it difficult to enact meaningful change and reduce the epidemic of gun violence.
It will take a concerted effort from politicians, activists, and everyday Americans to push for effective gun control measures that can save lives and make the country safer. Until then, the trend of high gun sales is likely to continue unabated, with little hope for a solution in sight.