Do Hordes of First-Time Gun Owners Mean There's a New Formidable Voting Bloc in Future Elections?

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Posted: Jul 02, 2020 8:30 PM
Do Hordes of First-Time Gun Owners Mean There's a New Formidable Voting Bloc in Future Elections?

Source: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

In the wake of the George Floyd riots and the coronavirus lockdowns, millions are flocking to the gun stores. There has been a breakdown of law and order. Leftist thugs are seizing parts of American cities. And the cities have become bastions of criminality and mayhem. Minneapolis has been devastated. New York City was lost to the mob for a few nights. Looting, vandalism, and arson were all hallmark characteristics in the many riots that erupted after the officer-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. One thing was certain from this event: the police cannot protect all the time. As a result, there’s been a rush to the gun stores. Katie wrote about it yesterday:

According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, June 2020 saw the highest number of gun purchases since the FBI started keeping track 20 years ago. Further, this year's June number increased over June 2019 by 135.7 percent. According to the unadjusted number from the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System, 3,909,502 background checks were conducted.

Whoa, nelly. That’s all I can say. What about the political impact? Well, if gun rights groups are smart, they’re going to figure out how many in this group were new gun owners. Oh, who am I kidding? They’ve already done that, estimating that some 40 percent of the gun purchases in June was due to new owners. That’s millions of potential voters, and there’s this hope that ranks of those willing to defend constitutional gun rights have swelled by the millions. Stephen Gutowski of The Washington Free Beacon has more:

After surveying retailers, NSSF estimates that 40 percent of those buying guns beginning in March were first-time owners. Analysts estimate about 6 million guns have been sold in that time period, with each month setting a new sales record. That would translate to as many as 2 million Americans becoming new gun owners over that time.

If gun-rights groups can mobilize that group, they can significantly impact the future of gun policy across the United States, according to Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

"We’ve witnessed something that is nothing short of a sea change, and in some cases might approach the level of epiphany, about gun ownership," he said in a statement. "This new wave of gun owners could become a formidable force during this year’s election. From now on, we expect millions of new gun owners to pay closer attention to candidates, and reject those who would trample on their Second Amendment rights."

Keane said recent sales spikes are proof that many Americans who have traditionally stayed out of the gun debate are open to owning guns, especially when they feel their personal security is at risk. The coronavirus pandemic saw "an entire generation of fence-sitters [get] off the fence" to purchase weapons. He said NSSF members have reported complaints from new customers facing the realities of trying to acquire a firearm in a state with strict gun-control laws.

"One of the things we've heard repeatedly from retailers over the last several months, going back to the onset of the pandemic, was first-time buyers shocked by all of the laws that they were required to comply with, including, for example, California's 10-day waiting period," he said. "And it was not uncommon for retailers to tell us these customers would say things like ‘why do I have to wait two days? I'm a law-abiding citizen. I need a firearm now.'"

Yet, there are some within the Second Amendment movement who are skeptical that this will translate into anything significant. Not all gun owners are single-issue voters. Look no further than the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial race, where 33 percent of Virginia voters who said they own a gun in their home backed pro-gun control Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who won the race. That’s not to say that it cannot be formidable, but there’s also the very real possibility that it could be a wash. Gutowski interviewed Robert Preston, an administrator for the Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association, who noted that in Pennsylvania, his supporters have more of an impact on local and county races than anything statewide.

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“As for new gun owners, it could help. However, there are many folks who own guns, whether new or old to guns, that would still vote for an anti-gun candidate because of other issues that are of more concern to that voter,” he told Gutowski.

That’s not to say that with good messaging and Democrats doing a lot of heavy lifting with their awful agenda, least of all those relating to the Second Amendment, that these millions of new gun owners can’t be reliable soldiers in defending gun rights and liberty.