Why is the NRA attacking the FBI

Arms sales in the US: Guns Against Viruses

The older woman - her name remains anonymous - never thought that one day she would buy a gun. However, because of the Corona crisis, she changed her mind: "I am old and live alone," the lady from Oregon told the US magazinenew Yorker. You don't know whether there will be any unrest. "The world is no longer what it used to be." In a gun shop in Hood River, about 100 kilometers from Portland, she decided to buy a semi-automatic pistol. 30 bullets fit in the magazine. The woman wants to protect herself from burglars, says thenew Yorker. "If hunger picks up in the cities in two months, they will come," she says. And buys a total of 16 boxes of ammunition. A short security check is enough, then she can take her goods with her.

Getting a pistol is not particularly difficult in many states in the United States. The second constitutional amendment has protected the right to private gun ownership since the founding days. Private individuals sometimes hoard real arsenals. With more than five million members, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is one of the most influential lobby organizations in the country and has been fighting against stricter laws for decades. There are far more firearms than people in the United States, according to a study by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. There are 120 privately owned rifles and pistols for every 100 inhabitants. For comparison: in Germany there are fewer than 20.

But since the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, arms sales have skyrocketed. According to the FBI, an estimated 2.5 million weapons were sold in March, almost 85 percent more than in the same month last year. The federal police authority does not record the actual amount of weapons sold, but it does record the number of security queries for weapon buyers. Industry experts speak of a historic sales high. Dealers report that an above-average number of buyers purchase a pistol for the first time. In the crisis, people seem to arm themselves who would otherwise rather do without the revolver in the bedroom.

"People are nervous"

It is above all the disturbed feeling of security of many Americans in times of the pandemic that is leading to this increase. "People are nervous and fear civil unrest when large numbers of people are sick and large numbers of facilities are not functioning normally," said Timothy Lytton, weapons expert and professor at Georgia State UniversityNew York Times. "They may be afraid that if the state organs start to erode, they will have to protect themselves."

And the NRA is fueling public fears. In an online campaign video, a woman with a rifle in hand explains, "I know from history how quickly society falls apart during a crisis." At such times, the second amendment to the constitution is more important than ever. "Even California liberals are lining up at the gun shop because they know the government won't be able to protect them." The message from the NRA is simple: the law enforcement officers cannot provide sufficient security, but your own weapon can.

The gun lobby is thus taking advantage of a mood that is already widespread in parts of the population. Trust in the regulatory authorities has decreased significantly in recent years. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, at the end of 2018 only 37 percent of the population believed that the police can always or mostly protect people from crime. Another 47 percent believed at least that they could do it occasionally.

And now there is the fear of a corona emergency. It has long been a concern not only for the population, but also for shopkeepers. Many shops in Manhattan and Chicago have boarded up their shop windows - it looks like the owners fear looting.

Police weakened in many places

The feeling of insecurity is currently heightened by the fact that the police are weakened in many places due to corona infections in their own ranks. In New York City, every sixth officer is already sick or in quarantine. Detroit, which is notoriously violent, is also seeing rising numbers of infections among police officers. The situation does not look any better in other large cities.

However, the fear of an increase in crime has so far been in stark contrast to the number of cases. New York, a city with a population of 8.5 million, reported a decline in crime in the past few weeks. There were fewer crimes such as murder, burglary and physical assault. Los Angeles also reports fewer crimes than in the previous months.

Those who have always advocated stricter gun laws in the United States are particularly concerned. The organization Moms Demand Action warns that arms and ammunition purchases posed a greater risk for certain population groups during the Corona crisis. This applies in particular "to the millions of children who now live in the house with unsecured weapons, women who seek protection from abuse, and everyone who has economic and psychological problems".

In the liberal coastal states, attempts are evidently being made to curb the proliferation of arms purchases. New York has added gun stores to the list of retail sectors banned from opening during the Corona crisis. The NRA has that Empire State therefore sued. However, in some California counties, gun shops are also closed. There should be a few less weapons in circulation now. However, this will hardly change anything in terms of the overall picture of the US as a weapon nation. There were over 393 million privately owned weapons across the country in 2018 alone.