In the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 20 children and six adults, one would think that buying guns would be the last thing on someone’s mind. Unfortunately the opposite has occurred, and a spike in gun sales has swept the nation. As gun control issues dominate the national conversation, why do Americans feel a need to protect themselves? Buying firearms is not a solution to prevent such tragedies, and if anything will provide more opportunities for guns to get into the wrong hands.
This is not the first instance in which gun sales increased in the aftermath of a high-profile shooting. According to the Denver Post, background checks for firearms purchases increased by 41% in Colorado just days after the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting in July.
There are also other factors that contribute to the increase in national gun transactions. It is the height of the holiday season, as well as hunting season. Also, President Obama’s recent reelection has played a role in the spike. Similarly, in 2008 gun sales soared when Obama was elected president. The FBI reported that during the week of November 3 they were requested to process over 374,000 background checks related to firearms purchases. It is apparent that gun advocates feared stricter gun control legislation during Obama’s administration.
Sales in assault weapons like AR-15 rifles have increased as well. This type of rifle is the most popular in America, and is the same one used by the Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza. The AR-15 was also used by alleged Aurora shooter James Holmes in a killing spree that resulted in 12 deaths and 58 wounded. Needless to say it is alarming that people resort to buying weapons of this nature all in the name of “self-protection.”
The increase in gun sales brings attention to a deeper issue. Why do Americans feel unsafe? According to CNN contributor David Frum, high profile shootings instill national fear:
“The more terrifyingly criminal the world looks, the more ineffective law enforcement seems, the more Americans demand the right to deadly weapons with which to defend themselves.”
The spike in national gun sales is indicative of the naivete of many Americans, who feel justified in taking the law into their own hands courtesy of the Second Amendment. However, there is national law enforcement for a reason, and gun advocates need to be reminded that keeping a gun in their homes will not necessarily protect them from harm.
Adam Lanza used weapons that were purchased legally by his mother, Nancy Lanza. She followed all of the legal protocol and passed background checks. However, the Newtown tragedy is a valid example of guns getting into the wrong hands. Adam Lanza did not have a criminal record, and he faced no legal obstacles to procuring the weapons he used in the Sandy Hook shooting.
More guns wouldn't make us safer, but instead only increase their availability to future Adam Lanzas.