As of this writing, the stock market is crashing, which is erasing years of hard-earned savings. Americans are stocking-up on food, cleaning supplies and toilet paper, creating shortages in the process. Ammo sales have spiked to unprecedented levels and firearms are flying off the shelves. As the veneer of civilization begins to fissure, Americans are realizing how vulnerable they are. Whether out of fear or caution, ordinary citizens are arming themselves for the uncertainty ahead.
For those of us who have been long-time gun owners, many have kept reasonable supplies of food, water and ammunition on-hand. There is a sense of an “I told you so” attitude. Anecdotally, the news media is reporting that many of the individuals buying firearms are first-time gun buyers. Those same friends and co-workers who rolled their eyes at “gun nuts” are standing in-line to arm themselves. Still, we support their Second Amendment rights and welcome them into the gun-owning fold. Hopefully these new gun owners will take the time to seek-out quality instruction so that they can handle their new purchases safely.
At the moment, the demand for firearms and ammunition appears to exceed that of any other durable good. However, that shift in priorities hasn’t stopped the efforts of gun control advocates to disarm or weaken our ability to protect ourselves. In metropolitan coastal regions that include the states of California and New Jersey, it was already a cumbersome process to buy a firearm. In the wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic, the door has just been slammed shut in the faces of citizens.
On Saturday, March 21, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy ordered all so-called “non-essential businesses” to cease operations. Gun shops were among those ordered closed, as were shooting ranges. Even the state’s NICS background check system shut down, making it legally impossible to obtain a firearm in the Garden State. Gun shops aren’t essential? Tell that to the people waiting in-line.
It would have been one thing for Gov. Murphy to have ordered “social distancing” measures, as his administration did at grocery stores, but instead, he trampled on the constitutional rights of his constituents with the stroke of a pen. Let’s be clear: This isn’t about public health; it is about keeping his constituents disarmed. The Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs (www.anjrpc.com), the state’s NRA affiliate, has promised to file a lawsuit challenging the ban, but that provides little comfort for those residents who want to be armed immediately.
We are observing the same approach to gun control happening in a number of California communities. After seeing the increased demand for firearms, gun stores were shut down by local authorities even before the statewide “shelter-in-place” order was issued. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo declared gun stores as “non-essential” and sent law enforcement to order them closed. “We are having panic buying right now for food,” Liccardo said. “The one thing we cannot have is panic buying of guns.” At least one San Jose resident disagrees with the “non-essential” declaration. “I’ve seen people fighting over toilet paper,” J.V. Sumabat of San Jose said. “I’m worried what they will do out of desperation. When people start looting stores and they don’t have access to food, they could come into the homes of those they feel are vulnerable. I’d rather be prepared.”
Such unilateral actions are not confined to the east and west coasts but have also appeared across the country. New Orleans’ mayor, LaToya Cantrell, issued an order that suspends firearm and ammunition sales and other jurisdictions have granted mayors the emergency power to shut down gun sales if they see the need arise.
Law enforcement agencies who were already strapped could become overwhelmed if the virus takes cops off the streets. Nearly 100 New York Police Department (NYPD) officers have tested positive for COVID-19, and 1,000 more than usual have reportedly called-in sick. NYPD has more than 34,000 officers in uniform, but smaller communities often have only a handful of sworn officers or deputies. It doesn’t take a prepper’s mindset to realize that law abiding citizens might very well need the means to defend themselves, their families and their property if the uncertainty of this situation becomes worse. Firearms are a key part of that equation.