With a wave of recent shootings hitting the U.S., once again we see a renewed interest in more restrictive gun laws. However, the outcry for stricter gun legislation has led to record gun sales over the last few months.
In fact, June, July and August all set new records for required background checks with 1.5 million, 1.6 million, and 1.7 million checks completed respectively. The current gun laws require a quick FBI background check before any federally licensed gun dealer can complete a sale. It should be noted that the FBI does not track actual sales, so these figures only represent the amount of background checks completed; buyers can purchase multiple firearms per check.
“Whenever there is a call for gun control, sales increase,” said Larry Keane, general counsel for the firearm industry trade association National Shooting Sports Foundation. “Unfortunately, this is a pattern that repeats itself.”
While there was a similar boom after the Newtown massacre, this is not the same type of buying pattern seen after large-scale attacks that generally prompt renewed interest in gun legislation. Experts say this type of buying more closely follows the pattern seen before the assault weapons ban of 1984, however, they see the current trend as an overreaction.
“We’re not at all threatening any one’s ability to get a gun. What we’re talking about here is common sense legislation. I don’t think any one is threatened by background checks,” Patrick Hope, a Virginia delegate of the state Assembly said.
However, even background checks would not have helped last months fatal shooting of TV personalities Alison Parker and Adam Ward, the shooter in that instance passed a background check where he was able to buy two Glocks. The proposed background check expansion would seek to cover currently unchecked private firearm sales that take place over the internet and at gun shows.
Many opponents of expanded gun control laws note that mass shootings often cause an emotional response that triggers calls for legislation, but do not often take the specific circumstances surrounding the shooting in to consideration.
“The concern that anti-gun politicians are seeking to infringe and restrict the right to keep and bear arms is very real and well-founded,” Keane said.
While both sides of the argument have valid points, as shootings mount in America it is evident something needs to change.