Americans have been buying a lot of guns. The figure is in the tens of millions. It might be time to get one of the gas pump stickers of President Joe Biden saying, “I did that.”
After all, it is his failing policies that are driving many to take up lawful gun ownership. The Biden administration’s failure to address rampant crime, attacks on Second Amendment rights and weaponizing of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to become a political arm of gun control instead of a law enforcement and regulatory bureau has woken Americans of all walks of life that gun ownership is not only legal; it’s responsible.
Those within the firearm industry, and Americans concerned about their personal safety, are not surprised. Month after month, NSSF publishes an Adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System report that shows the number of FBI background checks associated with the sale of a firearm.
That figure has been over a million every month for the past 33 months.
New Report, Old Information
The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Axios trumpeted the publication of a new ATF report, that’s well… not really new information at all. ATF published the National Firearms Commerce and Trafficking Assessment. The report is a compilation of already-publicly available information that’s posted to the ATF’s website.
This report, conspicuously-timed just a week before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee considers President Biden’s nomination of Steve Dettelbach to become the next ATF Director, puts all that information that’s been hanging out there for the public to see in one easily-digestible 306-page report.
In other words, the Biden administration did the homework for the media to find all the firearm production and illegal trafficking reports in one place.
The New York Times report noted that semiautomatic handguns have been the most popular-selling firearms since 2009. That’s hardly new information. NSSF has been explaining that handguns, typically purchased for personal and home defense, have accounted for more than half of firearm sales. That became even more obvious starting in April 2020, when there were 2.3 million background checks for the sale of a firearm, the most ever on record for a single month.
New Gun Owners
That gun-buying trend contributed to a record of over 21 million background checks for gun sales in 2020, followed in 2021 with over 18.5 million. It wasn’t just existing gun owners adding to their gun safes. Over 14 million first-time gun buyers purchased a gun in those two years, with significant increases of women, African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans purchasing guns. Today’s gun owner is increasingly diverse, representing more of America because more Americans of all walks of life are buying guns.
Axios, a policy-centered news outlet widely read by Washington, D.C. lawmakers and their staffs, recognized this shift. That report cited a Gallup poll that showed rising crime was the leading concern among Americans.
The number one reason they’re buying guns is for personal safety. This recent gun-buying surge began in April 2020, which is also when COVID-19 lockdown orders began. That’s also when police warned they wouldn’t be able to respond to every 9-1-1 call because police departments were forced to pull officers off the beat over infection and violent criminals were released from jail due to COVID concerns.
The violence that followed in the summer of 2020, where cities across America witnessed riots, arson, looting and murders, propelled the gun buying, followed by election-season rhetoric from the Biden-Harris campaign of plans to enact far-reaching gun control plans.
Add in the embrace of “Defund the Police” policies by politicians, no-bail and soft-on-crime policies that turn criminals back out on the streets to commit more crimes and the continued gun control plans of the Biden administration, it doesn’t take a 306-page report to understand Americans are concerned for their safety and they’re taking action.
The violence never subsided. Racially motivated attacks continue, even to this day. Americans continue to purchase firearms. KTLA in Los Angeles just published a report speaking with African-Americans purchasing guns there for self-defense. Oni Powell explained to reporters, “We have to be diligent and we have to know that our safety is first and foremost.”
Criminals Being Criminal
The ATF’s report also shows, once again, that criminals aren’t obtaining firearms through legal sales. They’re obtaining them through theft and the illegal black market. That information, too, isn’t new. The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics report shows that convicted felons that committed their crimes with a firearm admitted they overwhelmingly obtained it illegally.
That’s another indicator that the Biden administration’s crackdown on the firearm industry is misguided. Administration officials blame “rogue gun dealers” for the crime spike when the reality is that criminals commit crimes. They don’t subject themselves to an FBI background check before they commit their crimes.
In the same report from The New York Times, it noted police recovered 19,344 privately manufactured firearms (PMFs), or so-called “ghost guns.” Emily Miller, a reporter covering firearms, noted in a tweet that cities, including Washington, D.C., Metro Police Department, have been including guns with obliterated serial numbers in their “ghost gun” recovery figures.
The reason firearm production is at record highs is simple market demand. More Americans are choosing to lawfully arm themselves to protect their loved ones. That demand was driven by runaway crime that the Biden administration refuses to seriously address.
Firearm manufacturers ramped up production to meet this demand. If the Biden administration wants to understand that in any simpler terms, NSSF can get him one of those “I did that!” stickers.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.