It always happens. When there is a crisis or a prominent Democrat threatens to criminalize some aspect of the right to keep and bear arms, people run out to buy lots of guns and tons of ammunition.
It happened during President Bill Clinton’s first term, when he was campaigning for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s 10-year “assault weapon ban” and the Brady bill’s five-day waiting period on buying handguns. It happened again in 2012, when President Barack Obama came out for a much more restrictive ban and a slew of other anti-gun initiatives. It also happened after some of the terrorist attacks by Islamic jihadists around the country during Obama’s scandal-ridden administration.
Last year, it happened when all of the Democrats seeking the party's presidential nomination were calling for banning the manufacture of AR-15s and comparable rifles, and mentally-diminished Joe Biden and “Beto” O’Rourke were additionally calling for confiscating the roughly 20 million of those rifles that Americans already own.
This year, it has happened more than ever before, in response to the Chinese virus pandemic and the violent rioting by mobs of Marxist sociopaths supporting Antifa and Black Lives Matter’s war against Western Civilization. Indicating the scale of the gun-buying surge, the FBI reports that seven of the 10 weeks during which it has conducted the greatest number of firearm-related background checks from the check system’s November 1998 inception through the end of June, were in February, March, and June of this year.
People’s desire to enhance their ability to defend themselves is presumably the reason for these bull markets in guns because, over the years, polls have consistently shown that self-defense is always the primary reason people acquire guns. But data have also indicated that most gun owners never attend formal training in their guns’ use. It has been a few years since I dealt with these data in the course of working at the NRA, but Karl Rehn—a longtime firearm instructor in central Texas and Grand Master in five U.S. Practical Shooting Association disciplines—and co-author John Daub revisited the subject in their new book, Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training. They found that only 1 percent of Texas’ gun owners attend training after receiving their handgun carrying licenses.
Buying guns in response to a crisis may make people feel good; it may satisfy the psychological need to “do something.” But merely owning a gun doesn’t mean knowing how to use it. As the legendary firearm instructor Jeff Cooper put it in The Art of the Rifle, “marksmanship is a somewhat simpler effort than playing a musical instrument, but it is not so simple as to be achieved without effort.”
If your goal is to be able to defend yourself, pack-ratting a hodge-podge of guns and pallets of budget-grade ammunition that will only collect dust is a poor strategy. In addition to preparing yourself psychologically and in terms of your clinical health and athletic fitness, and developing your contingency plans, you would be better served by having firearms, magazines, ammunition, and accessories that are designed specifically for defensive purposes, and taking some classes from a good tactical firearm instructor.
There are more good firearm instructors now than ever before, and you can find them in most parts of the country. Many gun owners are already familiar with the big-name schools, such as the SIG Academy in New Hampshire, Tactical Response in Tennessee, Combat Shooting and Tactics in East Texas, the Gunsite Academy in Arizona, Thunder Ranch in Oregon, and Rangemaster and CostaLudus, which conduct classes from coast to coast. But there are also many other companies providing high-quality training.
A top choice is Green-Ops, led by Army Special Forces veteran Mike Green. Green-Ops is based in Northern Virginia and San Antonio, and also conducts training in other locations from time-to-time. Green is also one of the few top instructors who, in addition to offering traditional pistol and rifle classes—meaning those involving the firing of guns at a range—also has a program focusing on a cost-free, time-efficient practice methodology that is used by special operations military personnel: “dry-firing,” meaning “without ammunition.” As with anything involving firearms, there are certain safety protocols that must be followed when dry-firing, and Green and his cadre can explain what’s required in detail. The Green-Ops blog also has lots of information on techniques, practice tips, and equipment selection considerations.
Another surge in gun-hoarding will likely take place if—some would say “when”—there is another round of riots, especially if people have the perception that police officers are letting the rioters run wild because they have been ordered to do so by their cities’ Democrat mayors. And people will buy more guns if there are more attacks like the one in Indianapolis last weekend.
However, like Cooper said, marksmanship (and related gun-handling skills, such as the handgun drawstroke, “speed” and “tactical” reloading, and malfunction clearing) cannot be achieved without effort, thus the time to begin training and practicing is now. America got caught with its pants down twice already this year. Let’s make sure there’s not a third time.