Since the beginning of the year, gun sales in the U.S. have been steadily rising, now hitting an time high, and the year still isn't over yet.
From COVID-19 and ongoing protests surrounding racial injustice, to calls for defunding the police across the country, and now the lingering anxiety as we all wait for the presidential election results.
While there are some still some unknowns, there is one thing we know for sure, uncertainty sells, no matter if its real or perceived.
“It’s not your actual risk of harm but your perceived risk of harm. So that’s one pathway, the other one is referred to as a belief in a dangerous world. So, is this diffused fear that things out there are dangerous? Society is on the brink of collapse, not that I’m just going to be attacked but things are going to go badly all around," explained Dr. Sam Fiala, Department Chair of Counseling and Psychology at A&M Central Texas.
Dr. Fiala says people's motivation to buy long guns and firearms for sporting is different than the drive to buy handguns. Fiala explains it stems from their perceived view of the world today, leading many to go into defensive mode.
“Here in Texas, we don’t require you to have any type of physical or arranged training to purchase a firearm,” said Damon Cross, Owner of Average Joe Guns and Texas License to Carry.
As a federal fire arms dealer and a license-to-carry instructor, Cross says it's concerning to see such a high uptick in first-time gun buyers.
“Most first-time owners think it’s just enough to have a firearm in the home, and most of them do not know how to use a firearm or have never had any formal education or training in using that firearm,” he said.
The spike in gun sales started towards the beginning of the pandemic. With COVID-19 causing a panic and restricted group training, it has caused one gun shop owner to close his doors.
“I started getting people that didn’t ever own a gun, never thought they should own a gun, never thought anything about a gun, and they were coming in to buy anything they could touch. I’m not going to put a gun in a child’s hands without education, so why would I put it in an adults’ hand without any education?" explained the gun shop owner, who wished to remain anonymous. "Between the price gouging, you can't get anything half the time, and people just coming in and buying whatever is on the shelf because they are in panic mode is not what I got into the gun business for.”
No matter why you choose to purchase a gun, all three agree education and practice is a top priority.
“Safety, safety, safety,” said Cross.
“Because once you own a gun, research shows you are much more likely to die by that gun than by someone's else's gun,” said Dr. Fiala.
“Go take a licensed-to-carry course, go to your local range and practice, get an instructor and pay for good instruction," said the gun shop owner.
Cross also says the dynamics of gun ownership in the U.S. is changing. He said in the first six months of 2020, federal licensed dealers saw $10.3 million in sales, and 58.2% of those buyers were African American men and women.
Now, although we have seen an increase in gun sales, Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting shows that crime rates are relatively low across the country right now.
Dr. Fila also says in order to ease some of that anxiety and stress, it's best to disconnect from everything when you can.