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COMMENTARY: The Virus ‘n Politics

Once curiosity becomes comfortable, comfort tends to feel safe and secure

Steve Comus

People like to feel secure. People need to be secure. It really is that simple and the founding fathers understood it very well. Unfortunately, such cognizance dissipated over time – until coronavirus upset apple carts around the world.

When the pandemic first hit the U.S., the shooting sports industry reported an almost immediate spike in the sales of guns and ammo, with special notice that many of those were first-time gun buyers.

Immediately, the industry discussed how that phenomenon likely could affect politics by changing the voting habits of a segment of the population that before had not been engaged in the gun debate, or if it had, it was engaged on the other side. We’re talking about converts here.

It wasn’t that folks in Gundom had a particularly clear crystal ball nor that they were especially brilliant. Frankly, it was pretty simple. Given the previous spikes in gun sales from the Clinton era through the Obama administration, most of the folks who would be involved in panic buying already had acquired their basic guns and ammo.

Certainly, some of the recent sales can be attributed to this segment of previous gun owners who either wanted to expand their gun inventory or increase their ammo supply.

But given the fact that the gun buying frenzy emptied the gun and ammo supply chain within a week, it was obvious that there had to be a huge number of folks buying those guns who were not involved in the previous spikes.

Depending on which numbers one wants to choose, it seems as though somewhere between 70 and 90 percent of the panic gun sales at the outset of the pandemic were to people who did not own guns before. That’s huge, because we’re talking about a gross number of over 3 million – a number that to this day continues to rise.

Among those first-time buyers are people who range all the way from those who had liked guns, but just hadn’t gotten around to buying any, to quite a number who previously had voted in favor of more gun control, banning of certain kinds of guns, etc.

That’s right. The pandemic was a global wakeup call and included those folks with newfound appreciation for the right to keep and bear arms, who before had voted to limit and/or take away guns.

It is one thing when a proposed law affects someone else, and quite another when it affects the voter himself or herself. The pandemic made gun control a personal matter to a whole additional class of voters.

Thanks to reporting in the Washington Free Beacon, we know from their own words how some of these first-time buyers have changed their views, and perhaps will change their votes.

“Scott Kane went 38 years without ever touching a gun,” the Washington Free Beacon reported. “That streak would have continued had it not been for the coronavirus. In March, fearful of the harassment his wife and child experienced over their Asian ancestry, Kane found himself in a California gun shop. His March 11 purchase of a 9mm would have been the end of the story, were it not for a political standoff over shutdown orders and background checks. Now Kane, a former supporter of gun-control measures and AR-15 bans, is frustrated by the arduous  process that has denied his family a sense of security. The pandemic has made the soft-spoken software engineer an unlikely Second Amendment supporter.”

Others interviewed by the Washington Free Beacon were more pointed in their views of politics and the pandemic.

“Aaron Eaton, a former Army MP and current sewer company technician in Alabama, said the increasingly hostile stance many in the Democratic Party have taken toward gun ownership helped push him to make his first purchase,” the Washington Free Beacon reported.

And some of the first-time buyers have made it clear that they plan to buy more guns in the future.

“Andrew, a federal contractor who, along with his wife, bought a Heckler & Koch VP9 on March 21 in Virginia, said the state’s Democrat-controlled legislature pursuing a package of gun-control laws this winter in the face of unprecedented opposition directly contributed to his purchase,” the Washington Free Beacon reported. “He said he and his wife are currently considering buying a number of other firearms they worry state Democrats will try to ban – or even confiscate – in the next legislative session despite those bills being defeated in the last session.”

There are two dynamics playing out simultaneously in the wake of the pandemic. First, there are a lot of folks out there who have awakened about the need for the Second Amendment to guard individual rights. Second, their realization that one political party wants to take away those rights, while the other wants to protect them.

That’s a heck of a one-two punch. Given the tiny margins for victory in political races these days, it doesn’t take a huge shift of voters to turn around an entire election.

The fascinating thing, however, is the doubling effect that happens when someone who would have voted against guns decides to vote for them. The way it works is that if there is a voter out there who has been undecided before, and that voter decides to vote for guns, it is a one-vote gain for Gundom.

But when someone who would have voted against guns decides to vote for guns, it is a two-vote swing: one vote the antis don’t have any more and one vote that Gundom does have.

Self-determination is the ultimate antidote to the pandemic or any other scourge. Gun ownership is central to the precept of individualism.

Collectivism may sound good in the PR arena for governments fighting the pandemic, but it can’t save the individual when the virus comes knocking. Nor can it save the individual when criminals and/or terrorists break down the door.

At such moments of truth, everything takes on a different kind of realism. The ability to defend self and family is real. Absence of it is folly.

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