Gun Sales and American Liberty

Gary North (, July 03, 2020

Here is a cheering chart.


This is a chart of background checks to buy guns, not actual sales. But actual sales do reflect the trend of background checks.

The significant fact is not that gun applications are up this summer. The significant fact is the trend. It rose slightly under Bush, accelerated under Obama, and continues to accelerate today.

I think it is safe to say that it’s going to continue to accelerate all summer. I think it’s also safe to say that, if Trump loses, November and December gun sales will go through the roof.

Adjusted to reflect only gun purchases, the number of checks for June was up nearly 136% over June 2019, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents gunmakers. That adjusted figure was 2.2 million, the group said.

“Civil unrest, rioting, looting and calls to defund police are unquestionably motivating factors of why this trend is increasing. Americans are right to be concerned for their personal safety,” said Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the group.

Oliva said gun purchases are a reasonable reaction to the political climate.

“Politicians who entertain notions of defunding police departments are the same ones who call for strict gun control and even outright confiscation,” he said. “These figures aren’t push polls. They are representative of Americans from all walks of life who are taking action and taking responsibility for their rights and their safety.”

Then the article added something that I find not just mildly amusing but wildly amusing. “Gun control advocates worried that those buying a gun for personal safety may not have enough training to handle or store it correctly.” Yes, that’s the main concern of gun-control advocates. They fear for the safety of the people who buy the guns. They also fear for those around them, who are usually family members. Worry, worry, worry: gun-control advocates are just so worried about the lives of people who buy guns. That’s certainly what motivated Hitler and Stalin to abolish guns. They were just so worried about the safety of people who would otherwise buy guns.


Buying a gun is a symbolic act. It is loosely related to potential threats to life and limb, but mainly it’s a symbolic act. Somebody buys a gun because he becomes convinced that he is at risk. He is convinced that the police cannot protect him. He is convinced that hoodlums are a threat to his family. I don’t think they are, statistically, because hoodlums stick to their own neighbourhoods most of the time. But, as a symbolic act, buying a gun does register the individual’s lack of confidence in local civil government. Anything that encourages loss of confidence in local civil government seems like a positive action to me. Civil governments are decreasingly reliable.

The Democrats are on record as favouring some degree of gun control. They don’t usually speak about outright confiscation. They speak about registration. But will they take steps to restrict gun sales if they win this year? It’s possible. I think it’s more likely that they will restrict sales on ammunition. They will go about this by the back door. But I would be very surprised if they launch a full frontal assault against gun ownership. The law could not be enforced, and they know it.

This is a blue-collar issue, not a Republican issue as such. Middle-class wives don’t like guns, but husbands who do like guns really like guns. They vote as a bloc.

Liberals don’t really think that there’s going to be an armed revolution of Right-wingers. Anyway, liberal politicians don’t believe this. They understand that the ownership of guns is a symbol. It is a symbol of distrust in the state. That’s why they want to take away our guns. They don’t want this symbol to exist in the American body politic. Liberals trust the state. They don’t want anything to undermine the trust in the state. Having the right to go into a gun store and buy a gun is probably the most significant single American liberty that is related to the distrust of the state.

That’s why liberals want to remove this liberty. It’s not that they think they’re going to be able to ram the welfare state down the throats of Americans if Americans don’t own guns. Americans are generally in favor of the welfare state. There wasn’t any resistance to the bailouts this year. There is no resistance to increasing payments through Social Security and Medicare. The issue is not the welfare state. The issue is the right of an individual to register his distrust of the state’s ability to do the one thing that the state says that it is supposed to do, namely, protect the public against criminals.

This country still has a jury system, and it still has the right to own guns. The jury system is substantive. The right to own guns is symbolic. Both are important for the maintenance of liberty.

This is why I don’t think Americans live in a police state. I don’t think we’re going to live in a police state. The jury system won’t allow it, and the right to own guns won’t allow it. Until both of these are gone, we’re going to retain our liberty as a nation and as a people.

Democrat politicians are lawyers. They’re not in favour of abolishing the jury. Jury trials were their bread and butter.

There are some groups whose civil liberties are being infringed on. The civil liberties of unborn infants are being infringed on. But the public could have stopped this years ago. The public is in favour of it. I don’t blame the Democratic Party for this; I blame the moral blindness of the voters.

I regard Democrats as threats to our economic liberties, but I also regard the typical voter as a threat to our economic liberties. There is nothing unique about Democrats as threats to our economic liberties. They reflect at least half of the population. I trust the free market and technological innovation to stay at least one step ahead of the regulators.


I am in favour of everybody going out and buying an extra gun. I’m also in favour of young families having one extra child. There are certain things that we can do to assert our independence of the state, and owning guns and having children are two good ways to do this.