The Week (US)

Why guns are flying off shelves

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Kevin Williamson

In Fort Worth, prospectiv­e customers are forming long lines out the door at gun shops, and “the cash registers are ringing,” said Kevin Williamson. Semiautoma­tic rifles and handguns are selling out, and ammunition is being sold with a two-box limit, if it’s available at all. The pandemic, political violence, and conspiracy theories—one gun store employee told me to expect “concentrat­ion camps for white people”—have created an unpreceden­ted sales boom in firearms and ammo. About 20 percent of all buyers have never before owned a gun, and “that’s a lot of guns in a lot of inexperien­ced hands.” Not incidental­ly, African-Americans and Hispanics are buying guns, too. The fiercely independen­t spirit bred of the American Revolution and the frontier is “an important part of what has kept America free,” but it’s also connected to “the worst aspects of our national character,” including paranoia, “political and religious extremism, and our horrifying addiction to violence.” It feels as if we’re “wobbling on the brink of something awful,” with deep distrust among factions, government­al incompeten­ce, and “widespread simmering rage.” This is a dangerous juncture in our history. “Americans don’t have a well-regulated militia—we don’t have a well-regulated anything.”

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