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Violence breeds violence: As law and order breaks down, Americans’ obsession with firearms grows stronger than ever

Chris Sweeney
Chris Sweeney

Chris Sweeney is an author and columnist who has written for newspapers such as The Times, Daily Express, The Sun and Daily Record, along with several international-selling magazines. Follow him on Twitter @Writes_Sweeney

Chris Sweeney is an author and columnist who has written for newspapers such as The Times, Daily Express, The Sun and Daily Record, along with several international-selling magazines. Follow him on Twitter @Writes_Sweeney

Violence breeds violence: As law and order breaks down, Americans’ obsession with firearms grows stronger than ever
Sales of guns are soaring across the US, with many first-time buyers taking up arms. Changing people’s mindset seems a lost cause.

Over the past week, surreal scenes have been broadcast from America’s major cities. Watching from the relative comfort and safety on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, one recurring thought is: what would I do in that situation?

News coverage relays frenzied mobs looting stores and smashing up anything that gets in their way. Police and local authorities are overrun by the sheer scale of the lawlessness, so individuals are having to protect themselves and their loved ones.

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The rapper Killer Mike, who’s become a respected public voice during the crisis, offered a way to do that. “I encourage gun ownership to my wife, my son and daughters, your sons and daughters and all black people,” he said.

But this isn’t only applicable to black communities. Every American is having to decide whether to get ‘tooled up’ as carnage rages on their streets and fears escalate over the weakness of the authorities. And it seems a lot are choosing to do so.

Surge in gun sales

May had already seen a 94 percent surge in handgun sales and Justin Anderson, the marketing director for Hyatt Gunns in Charlotte, North Carolina, said:“We’re seeing many first-time gun buyers. This is just unprecedented. Two things are at work here: The pandemic has forced many to rethink their reliance on others to provide them security. Additionally, many people are seeing what government overreach looks like. This is exactly the type of situation the Second Amendment was written to address.

Civil unrest has taken hold across the nation, and as a result, we are seeing a massive spike in business, especially AR-15s, magazines, and ammunition. The time to just ‘think' about buying a gun is over. It’s time to get off of the fence and make sure you have the means to protect yourself and your family.”

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Speaking to RT, using a pseudonym which illustrates how on edge people are, Andrew Mills from Texas explained why he had bought a gun for the first time: “Dallas had riots and some innocent people were injured. Austin had some things happen and Houston had property damage then some cars lit on fire.

“I heard that they were thinking of expanding the protests up north of the downtown Houston area, which is where I live. I bought a Glock 48. It uses a 9mm round which is typical in most pistols. It is semi-automatic. So, one trigger pull, one round, then you reset the trigger,” he said.

Bought as a deterrent 

Andrew is under 30, but it isn’t only the younger generation who have been buying guns. Professor Eric Rasmusen, from Indiana, is 61 and has just purchased his first gun for $150.

The reason? Reaction to his political views. “My wife had been urging me to buy a gun for several months because of the hatred the left has for me and the attacks from my university leaders, the local newspapers and the national press, especially after someonedripped fake blood in front of our house at 1am one night,” he said.

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“If people know I have a gun they will be less likely to deface my home and scare or injure my wife and children. The best use of a gun for self defense is deterrence, not ambush.”

The only issue the professor had in obtaining his revolver was a longer wait than usual because the FBI computer system was running slow. That was down to the massive volume of gun buying across the US, which is at the third-highest level ever in the history of the federal system.

Business looted 

This chimes with 35-year old Leigh – again speaking under a pseudonym – from California, who has seen her business looted. “My neighbours are mostly liberals who until this week were anti-gun. They didn't want to own one and they participated in the narrative that others shouldn't be allowed to own them either,” she said.

“Now every single one of my neighbours wants a gun. The one gun store in our area is by appointment only right now. Their phone line rings to a busy signal because everyone wants to get their hands on guns. We are defending our lives and property number one, but we are also defending law and order. We like our country in general and don't want it burned in order to start over with a new system of government.”

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Another American in Michigan who spoke to RT admitted she couldn’t afford to buy a gun, but for the time being had been given one by her daughter. “I will be looking to purchase a gun but the financial struggle at the moment with not being able to work makes it difficult for me right now. I've been waiting six weeks for unemployment and my savings are critically low,” she said.

It's quite something to process that in the world’s most developed country, a citizen struggling financially is planning to make their first significant purchase a gun. Not clothes, furniture or some form of entertainment, but a lethal weapon.

Constitutional right 

Of course, the right to bear arms is enshrined by the second amendment in America’s constitution. Other countries allow gun ownership, but nowhere else is it pursued quite so obsessively. The USA has a unique relationship with them, with more than double the number of civilian firearms per 100 people (120) than their nearest competitors, the Falkland Islands and Yemen. Estimates suggest that US citizens own more than 393 million guns, most of them unregistered. This resulted in 15,292 people being fatally shot in the US in 2019.

The current outpouring of civil disobedience followed the shocking death of George Floyd. But would it have happened in any other country on such a scale? Is the concept of freedom and the right to bear arms ingrained into the average American too greatly?

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This mindset is feeding a cycle, where even those who’ve previously rejected guns now feel compelled to get one to stay safe. Among many other unfortunate consequences, the unjust killing of George Floyd has served to prove that grabbing a gun is the way for more and more Americans to enforce their rights.

There’s much to admire about the US. But its people’s continued desire to draw guns – despite countless tragedies over the years - is perplexing to many outsiders.

When I asked Leigh if she could hand on heart see herself discharging her firearm if faced with a looter, her response was immediate.

 “100 percent,” she replied. I hope I can never relate to that mindset. I’d rather be shot than do the shooting.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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