Americans are buying more guns than ever before, according to federal statistics on background checks. There were 2.2 million background checks for gun purchases last month, a rise of 37% month on month. This year has seen a spike in gun sales. Every single month has seen a record number of purchases.
As Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has declined in the polls following a month of controversies, gun purchases steadily increased. Conservative Trump supporters were already well-armed, something they are very proud to admit, and those concerned about a Democratic victory in November are adding to their personal arsenals.
This trend is not surprising. Gun sales generally increase when Democrats win or are appearing to win an election. There was a similar effect when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. It is important to note that the number of individual gun owners has fallen year on year, meaning there are more guns in fewer hands.
Donald Trump received an early endorsement from the National Rifle Association and he has done everything he can to stoke up fears that Hillary Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment and ban all guns. Trump’s recent comments about ‘Second Amendment activists’ stopping Clinton was interpreted as a thinly veiled joke about assassinating her.
There is an increasingly real fear that Trump supporters may become violent if their candidate loses. Trump’s claims that the election will be rigged, encouraging violence at his rallies, his ‘jokes’ about killing Clinton and his claims that Clinton and Obama founded ISIS (a poorly disguised accusation of treason) all make for a dangerous cocktail. With so many voters heavily armed and Trump playing on their fears, the rise in gun sales might be more than just a typical election spike.