Opinion: More Gun Control, More Gun Sales

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks about gun control legislation on Capitol Hill, March 11.


joshua roberts/Reuters

The Democrats running Washington seem intent on fulfilling every other progressive dream, so why not gun control? Last week the House passed two new gun measures, and Senate Majority Leader

Chuck Schumer

promises they’ll get a vote on the Senate floor. They’d better hope this doesn’t boomerang the way rising crime has spurred gun purchases.

The first bill passed 227-203, with only eight Republicans, and would impose background checks for even person-to-person gun sales. The other bill passed 219-210, with only two Republican votes. This would extend the window for background checks to 10 days from three. The bills are aimed at making it harder to acquire and own guns.

Democrats are betting that background checks are popular, but the result in practice may be to spur more gun sales. In 2020 the National Instant Criminal Background Check System reported 21 million background checks, which translates to 8.4 million new gun owners. That’s a record. There were an estimated 2.9 million new gun buyers in 2019, and the previous record was 3.4 million in 2016.

More buyers are women and minorities. “Forty percent of 2020’s buyers were women and the biggest increase of any demographic category was among African Americans, who bought guns at a rate of 58 percent greater than in 2019,” says the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which tracks the data.

Mr. Schumer surely knows the bills have no chance to get 60 votes in the Senate. But holding the votes will please progressives, and if there’s new gun violence Democrats might benefit politically. But no one should think that pressing gun control will do anything other than spur more gun sales.

Journal Editorial Report: Paul Gigot interviews economist Steve Moore. Image: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

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Appeared in the March 15, 2021, print edition.

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