It seems that many Americans on the left are now trying out gun ownership, with a huge spike in firearm sales to women, minorities and politically liberal buyers who once would not have considered gun ownership, according to a Reuters report on DailyMail.com.
The COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest, election fears and increased sense of ideological division are all accompanied by a 41 percent increase in background checks.
Shares in top gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson have jumped 131 percent.
“People who don’t normally think about firearms are being forced to contemplate something outside their universe,” said Dan Eldridge, owner of Maxon Shooter´s Supplies and Indoor Range in the Chicago suburb of Des Plaines, Illinois.
Neither gunmakers nor the federal government release details on gun sales or the demographics of buyers, but the number of first-time buyers has spiraled this year, according to industry analysts and trade groups.
In a Sept. 3 conference call with investors, Smith & Wesson Brands CEO Mark Peter Smith estimated that first-time gun buyers accounted for about 40 per cent of sales this year, which he called a conservative estimate and “double the national average” in previous years.
Among the first-time buyers this time is Andreyah Garland, a 44-year-old single mother of three daughters, who bought a shotgun in May for protection in the peaceful town of Fishkill, N.Y. She joined a gun club to learn how to shoot it. She has since applied for a pistol permit.
Bailey Beeken, 61, who lives in Riverdale, New York and describes herself as a white, politically liberal, middle-class woman. She started taking shooting lessons this summer, she said, because “whichever way this election goes, it could get really scary, and it could get bloody.”
With tension over mask-wearing and police-brutality protests sparking violent street clashes, “I just feel like it´s a powder keg,” she said.