Monday, May 31, 2021

Herd Immunity?

The other day the NYT featured a major article on gun sales in America: 

An Arms Race in America: Gun Buying Spiked During the Pandemic. It’s Still Up.

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.


  1. Not only firearms, but ammo is @ a premium: go price the stuff - most everything popular: 9mm, .223/5.56mm, .30’06, .308 is nearly or/at $1.00 per round. Some cases even over that & people are hoarding.

    Getting into reloading now (admittedly late to the game): many reloading presses & everything you need - cases/primers/powder, bullets, etc - is on back order. Was insulated again the worse of it for awhile since I’m a heavy milsurp guy but even those prices are jumping.

    Range fun is going to be limited to a black powder musket for awhile. That’s the most inexpensive.


  2. Tennessee and now Texas have recently passed constitutional open/concealed carry laws with no permit required; Tennessee's new law goes into effect on 1 July, joining a number of other states that have already done so.

    Just this morning on the local Nashville talk radio channel, I heard an ABC news report about the Rap concert shooting in Florida where the news reader stated that it appeared that not all the firing came from the attackers - but return fire may have occurred, and not from law enforcement.

    With more than three decades in the military and growing up hunting, there are real concerns about 'newbies' going out and buying small arms who don't even know how to load them; what does that say about their knowledge of safety? Recently at the local Wal-Mart, an accidental discharge occurred when a handgun fell out of an individual's pocket - and that person had to have had the required training to carry concealed. Last I heard the local prosecutor was charging him with some kind of public endangerment statute. Then just last week I found a 9mm round laying on the pavement at the same Wal-Mart near the handicap parking. Just a couple anecdotal observations from a guy who with his high school friends used to take our shotguns and rifles with us to school, leaving them in our vehicles in the parking lot because we were going hunting after school let out. Those days are long gone...

    Like Boarwild, I may have to start using my ACW reproduction Enfield and Springfield at the range with ammo prices being what they are.


    1. DJL -

      The repro 1853 Enfield is the one I have; that’s what got me started on the milsurp kick. Most recent acquisition is a 1886 Enfield-made Long Lever Martini-Henry. If you have one of those reloading is an absolute must unless you just want to stick over the mantel.

      Black Powder is dirty but it sure is fun! ;<)


    2. My Enfield is also an 1853 repro. The Springfield an 1861. Bought them for ACW reenacting from a gunsmith in Harpers Ferry, WV, but they are fully functional rifled muskets. They're like firing shotgun slugs but with a much longer range and far better accuracy. I prefer the Enfield over the Springfield. The Rebs used the Enfield as a long range sniper weapon.


    3. DJL -

      You still reenact? Which side were you doing? Thought about it but it was $$$ to get all the necessary accoutrement; figured I’d just be a regular actor.

      That’s tough enuff ;<)


    4. Haven't done any reenacting for a number of years. A navy buddy of mine knew I had orders to DC and that northern Virginia was a big reenacting locale. He hand sewed my Richmond Depot uniform and had it ready to go before I transferred. While I was in DC for about three years, I was very active in the hobby. After retiring to Tennessee, the call went out for reenactors to participate in remaking some of the National Battlefield parks welcome center films and I was lucky enough to be in the Chickamauga and Chattanooga film; we were paid as extras and provided with meals while there at the battlefield where the films were shot. Being further south in the 'Western Theater,' I had the opportunity to wear my Columbus Depot jacket my buddy had sewn for me in the following years. Like many ACW reenacting units, we all had both CSA and Federal uniforms to fill in the ranks as needed - usually for the Federal side for some reason...


    5. It isnt only handguns being bought in record numbers, or only by men. It's been remarkable to watch our rifle club almost triple in new members, many of whom are women.

      I have shot archery, shotgun and pistol for close to 50 years, and have never seen this kind of new member entry, even under O'Biden.

      We shoot from awkward positions, different types of barricades from 200 to 1500 yards, as a timed event, shooting steel plates.

      My understanding is that virtually all the clubs in our region have also seen huge growth.

      In other words, it isn't solely handgun purchases and safety training happening, we are seeing a big spike in the numbers of very skilled marksmen...and women.

      This is in bolt and gas gun, both.

      As mentioned above, getting brass, primers and powders to build match-grade ammo is tough, but it is getting better.


  3. My wife insisted that I buy her a .38 caliber pistol. Got her a S&W M2. Going to go with her so she can get training.

    We are now discussing discussing whether to get a semi-automatic shotgun or an AR-15. I'm leaning towards the AR-15; and then a shotgun.

  4. I had someone close to me tell my job is about to get harder. I live/work in north Texas as a cop. This was due to the passage of constitutional carry.

    I responded, “How?” I further explained that those not willing to follow the law prior would have a gun whether or not it was allowed. Moreover, I said, under the prior laws, a cop could not demand to see your license to carry. Even further, historically, you can carry a rifle out in public just so long as you aren’t threatening anyone with it. Yeah, I confronted one person and left because he was doing anything unlawful, ie a danger to public or a specific person.

    The latest Texas law strengthens unlawful conduct while at the same time recognizes that private individuals, who could afford it, could privately own cannons, many cannons, on sea faring warships no less (privateers).

  5. Gun violence in USA is the same as or lower than gun violence in UK or Europe, if you either: 1. take the five worst cities (all Dem and all heavily gun controlled) out of the statistics, OR, 2. look at the statistics taking the racial group most responsible for gun crime out of the picture.

    Guns are a very useful invention, have been around for hundreds of years, and can be made with pretty primitive manufacturing techniques by almost anyone.... Nobody thinks they can get rid of them. What they do want to do is disarm a certain law-abiding segment of the population that may not do what it's told. The other segments, they think they can control, even if they have weapons.

    Of course violent crime is low where people can defend themselves! Criminals and shooters want the power trip of being the only armed person in a group. But the political left doesn't care about that...they just want to disarm their adversaries with the gun control laws. Don't let the facts or constitution get in the way of that!

  6. Another aspect of the "breakdown of the shared common reality" is probably moreso for those of us buying our 10th or 20th gun, rather than the new buyers....

    It is this: the premise that our government is, by and large, still interested in doing the right thing, is long gone. Not only are they increasingly unlikely to protect their own citizens, they are more likely to be the aggressor and IN THE WRONG, and there is very little check or balance against it. I am under no illusions what would happen if "they" came after me, but after decades of dissolution, I no longer find the US government to be a force for good in the world.

    You can see this manifest itself in the recent spat of states and municipalities who are passing laws that refuse to assist federal agents in the discharge of their duties (such as the ATF or FBI), because those duties are deeply unethical. A few brave ones are even committing to treat the enforcement of illegitimate federal law as a crime and arrest those agents. Its going to set up some dire situations that I hope folks like the Texas cop above are seriously considering which side they want to be on. Our government is not the good guys.

    The riots, the usurping of the will of the people, the seizure of our resources and rights - are merely symptoms of what they represent.

    Unfortunately that counts for something, also.