The other day the NYT featured a major article on gun sales in America:
I won't go into the details. If you're interested you can follow the link. Or, you can read Steve Sailer's post on the article, which features extensive excerpts as well as Sailer's comments. The title of Sailer's post tells enough of the story to eliminate much of the guesswork from figuring out what's going on: Gun Sales Up 64%.
However, Don Surber has an interesting take on this today, and finishes his brief comments with a pointed question:
ITEM 2: More good Second Amendment news.
The New York Times complained, "An Arms Race in America: Gun Buying Spiked During the Pandemic. It’s Still Up.
"Preliminary research data show that about a fifth of all Americans who bought guns last year were first-time gun owners. Sales usually spike around elections, but the sheer volume is notable."
What's notable about that? What's notable is the sheer number of Americans who for the first time ever in their lives felt threatened enough to go through the government mandated hassles and purchase a firearm.
Here's what the article says about that. Of course it's slanted in some respects, but reflect on it:
“There is a breakdown in trust and a breakdown in a shared, common reality,” said Lilliana Mason, a political scientist at the University of Maryland who writes about political violence. “There is also all this social change, and social change is scary.”
Many gun store workers reported that last year set records for sales and also that they noticed different types of buyers walking in the door. Thomas Harris, a former law enforcement officer who works at the gun counter at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Roanoke, Va., said that around March last year, the customers he would speak with began to include more white-collar workers, such as people from insurance firms and software companies. He said many of the buyers were not conservative and most had never handled a gun.
“Outside of seeing something on TV or in a movie, they knew nothing about them,” he said, adding that they did not know how to load a gun or what a caliber was. He said many of these apparent first-time buyers purchased more expensive guns, in the range of $400 or more. The purpose, he said, was not to carry the gun around in public, but to keep it at home.
“They were saying: ‘We’re going to be locking down. We’re constrained to our homes. We want to keep safe.’”
So think about that. A breakdown in a shared, common reality? What was our shared common reality before this breakdown began? It was a common Christian ethic and morality--whether accompanied by conscious conviction or not. The breakdown involved movement from that ethic, with its value on human life, in the direction of liberal antinomianism of various sorts, with its relativizing of the value of human being and human life. The signs of this breakdown are everywhere in our culture. Part of that change has involved a change in the attitude toward crime and toward law enforcement, but of course the ramifications are broader and deeper.
Which of the trends involved in this breakdown has led to more gun purchases? Not all did. For example, the spread of abortion is certainly antinomian in inspiration, but I doubt that it has led to more gun sales. Then again, as the article points out, past surges in gun buying have not featured as high a spike nor as prolonged a buying spree--with no end in sight.
I suggest that the new factor is the liberal and literal weaponizing of "social justice" movements for political ends--with a drastic lessening of the consequences for violent crime of some sorts--is what has led to the "breakdown of trust" and the desire to "stay safe" (as people increasingly exhort one another). Again, the article points out that these new gun owners are often liberal. What do they know, or sense? Probably that their political views or social justice sympathies will not innoculate them from violence, so it's time to take another step. A step that for most of these people must have taken considerable thought. For many it would have been a gut wrenching decision.
And so Surber continues, pointing out--while not explicitly commenting on this--something that Progs don't seem to get:
Riots have consequences.
The story said, "39% of American households own guns. That is up from 32% in 2016, according to the General Social Survey, a public opinion poll conducted by a research center at the University of Chicago. Researchers said it was too early to tell whether the uptick represents a reversal from the past 20 years, in which ownership was basically flat."
And then Surber presents the key question:
At what point does private gun ownership create a herd immunity to violent crime in which criminals stop attacking people because the risk of being shot down is too high?
I'm not going to comment much on gun ownership per se, or whether increased gun ownership is a good thing. I'll say this: I think it's unfortunate that the surge in gun buying is being fueled by a breakdown in social solidarity. The argument can be made that gun ownership is a sensible sort of insurance policy against some types of violent crime, but that it's now fueled by increasing social dis-ordering brought about by Progressivism has to be considered disturbing.
As for Surber's question, the answer it seems to me isn't as simple as the argument presented by Libertarians like John Lott. Yes, it's true that in many, probably most, high gun ownership locales violent crime is low. America remains a very safe country, by and large--contrary to the impression that so many Euros--for example--harbor. The huge spike in murder rates is actually quite localized and is driven by gang violence--members of one gang shooting members of another gang, as well as bystanders caught in the crossfire. If you don't live or work in that environment--or in a liberal community that tolerates political street violence--you probably remain safe. Even very safe.
My impression is that the knowledge of gang bangers that other gang bangers are likely to be armed and ready to return fire will not prevent gang violence from increasing. The real question, then, is whether such violence will spread beyond its current local boundaries. It is that uncertainty that is probably behind the continuing surge in gun buying. I can think of no reason why that surge will not continue, since the Zhou regime appears to be determined to continue the policies that led to it.