In America, spikes in gun purchases are often motivated by fear. And now the country is on track in 2020 to stockpile at record rates, according to groups following background checks from FBI data, which showed sales increased earlier this year as fears virals were spreading.
But when it comes to gun ownership, there is something uniquely American that transcends party membership and social boundaries – letting liberals and conservatives scramble for ammunition because they want to prepare for whatever is to follow.
“It’s a giant ‘you never know’ room,” Bert Davis said, looking around earlier this month at the people who flocked to a convention hall in Virginia to browse weapons at the Nation’s Gun Show, one of the biggest events of its kind.
A human resources worker for the city of Richmond, Virginia, Mr. Davis had come to the show with his sister Toni Jackson, who had struggled to find 9-millimeter ammunition in local gun stores; they were all sold.
“Everyone is arming themselves against their neighbor,” Ms. Jackson said, looking at the many other shoppers, strollers and wheelchairs, one wearing a “Black Lives Matter” mask, the other wearing a “mask” Keep America Great ”and people lining up for background checks meandering the length of the room. “It fuels the country’s separatism.”
“What’s going on in the country right now, I’m afraid of being alone as a black woman,” Ms. Jackson said, describing the unrest in her town of Richmond and beyond. “There are a lot of people who are not necessarily happy that Confederate monuments have been demolished.”
Other buyers said they bought a gun because they feared calls to deter police would be heard. Some said they were afraid of the police. Some were afraid that Joseph R. Biden Jr. would become president. Others feared four more years of President Trump.
Don Woodson oversaw the Trojan Arms and Tactical array of dozens of black, pink, and Tiffany Turquoise semi-automatic handguns. He estimated that 70% of his sales at the show went to new gun owners, many of whom told him they were afraid of rioters.
“People who would never have had weapons before,” he said. “Now they are looking for safety.”