On Black Friday the FBI processed 185,345 gun background checks, the most ever recorded in a single day. In November there were 2,243,030 background checks, one of the highest on record. For the first 11 months of the year, the FBI processed nearly 20 million gun background checks, and that was before the San Bernardino massacre.
Now it’s winter, and Christmastime, one of the periods of highest demand for guns and their accessories. With momentum growing to own and carry a gun continuing through the end of the year, 2015 is likely to set a new record in background checks.
For the record, the NICS (the National Instant Criminal Background Check System) has processed more than 222 million background checks since 1998.
Those checks are only a vague approximation of the number of guns sold, as many are still purchased and sold privately, and others are often purchased in multiples by existing gun owners. But it is proxy for the gun ownership revolution that continues under Obama’s watch.
That revolution is now reflected in data showing that more than half of all homes in America have a gun, estimated to be between 100 million and 160 million homes. The best estimate of the actual number of firearms owned comes in at about 250 million.
It’s also reflected in the stock performance of Sturm Ruger and Smith & Wesson during the year, with their stock prices rising by 77 percent and 134 percent respectively.
It’s also reflected by the increasing number of women owning firearms, forcing even the anti-gun New York Times to comment on their “rising voice” in the movement last year. According to the Times from February, 2013:
A growing number of women are learning to use firearms and hone their skills.
Women’s participation in the shooting sports has surged over the last decade, increasing by 51.5 percent in target shooting from 2001 to 2011, to just over five million women, and by 41.8 percent for hunting, according to the National Sporting Goods Association.
Gun manufacturers are marketing their wares toward that increasingly important segment, offering smaller frames, custom colors (with pink often a favorite), and accessories such as the high-end concealed carry Salmon Kiss leather handbag offered by Cobra Firearms for $350.
There are many reasons to explain the continuing surge in enjoying Second Amendment rights, including the desire for self-protection in an increasingly violent society, the fear of stricter gun laws as promised by President Obama in his last year of his second term, and just the general feeling of uncertainty that is increasingly pervasive as society continues to move away from its permanent foundations.
For some women, however, ownership of a firearm is a statement of independence and personal power, as expressed by Tina Wilson-Cohen, a former Secret Service agent who founded She Can Shoot in Virginia. With women-only chapters spreading across the country, she says that most of them have joined because “they’ve been a victim at one point of their life, of stalking or date rape or domestic violence, or they have just felt so vulnerable, and they want to feel competent and [that] they can protect themselves.”
According to Women and Guns magazine, an arm of the Second Amendment Foundation, there are at least 12 million women gun owners in the country, with other estimates approaching 20 million.
The momentum is spawning new avenues of marketing as well, including GunTV, the late-night home shopping channel starting in January, which will offer firearms and accessories to gun enthusiasts seeking detailed information before making a purchase without having to visit a gun store.
The momentum is also being driven by attacks on guns and gun owners by anti-gun media, especially including the New York Times. The establishment’s voice broke a 95-year tradition in early December by removing all doubt in its front-page editorial about what the anti-gun movement is trying to accomplish:
It is a moral outrage and national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency....
It is past time to stop talking about halting the spread of firearms, and instead to reduce their number drastically — eliminating some large categories of weapons and ammunition....
Certain kinds of weapons ... and certain kinds of ammunition, just be outlawed for civilian ownership ... it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.
Not only do an increasing number of Americans not trust the New York Times or its opinions, those Americans increasingly don’t trust their government either. The latest poll from Pew Research Center shows that less than 25 percent of Americans trust the government always or most of the time, with 75 percent saying they trust the government only some of the time, or never.
With the president promising additional restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms during his lame duck year in office, with the anti-gun media now making it abundantly clear what their objective is, and with states increasingly allowing their citizens to obtain concealed carry permits, these are all the incentives needed to continue to drive the ownership of firearms by private citizens. That momentum will likely accelerate as long as the attacks on freedom — both personal and political — continue.