Images of people queuing up to buy guns in the United States that went viral on social networks a few weeks ago have translated into an all-time record of sales. March has closed as the second busiest month in the country’s history in that chapter, according to The New York Times, just behind January 2013, right after Barack Obama’s re-election and the shooting at Sandy Hook, the Connecticut school where 26 people died, 20 of them children aged 6 or 7.
In a country with an undeniable devotion to guns it is not only the toilet paper and bean cans that have been blown off the shelves by the coronavirus pandemic. Fear of even greater catastrophe from this new pathogen has led many to take up arms and stockpile ammunition.
The data on which the statistics are based comes from the background checks that the FBI processes with every gun sale, although many of the nation’s states do not require such security processes by law. Anyone can buy a gun as long as they are of legal age. According to that count, 1.9 million guns were sold in the U.S. in March, 100,000 fewer than the previous record of January 2013.
The other two dates in which there was also a significant increase in the consumption of weapons and ammunition was after the beginning of Obama’s first term in office in January 2009 (1.1 million weapons sold) and after the 9/11 attacks (754,000).
Fear of the coronavirus has been near the top of the list. The main fear is that the spread of the disease will trigger chaos and looting in various parts of the country. Faced with the possibility, the logic of many is to arm themselves.
“We have had an 800 percent increase in sales,” David Stone, a gun store owner in Tulsa, Oklahoma, told AFP. “I’m about to run out of product. Stone says he himself does not understand this sudden phenomenon, even though it is benefiting him financially. “I think it’s unreasonable.”
It has also helped that President Donald Trump has kept gun shops on his list of essential businesses that have been able to continue operating during the decreed lockdowns to avoid further contagion. Trump is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which speaks of the right to “keep and bear arms”.
According to the Small Arms Survey, there are 393 million firearms in the U.S., most of them unregistered, and an average of 120 guns per 100 people.