Media falsely ties Capitol Hill insurrection to increase in firearm sales
February 11, 2021
National media report a 75% increase in firearm sales in January 2021 compared to the same month last year. Many are drawing an association with it being the month in which a mob forcibly breached and entered the U.S. Capitol.
To showcase a few…
The Associated Press: Gun sales hit a historic high in January as violent riots hit the U.S. Capitol and a new president took over, continuing a record-setting surge that began as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in early 2020.
The Washington Post: Firearm sales soared in January after a mob-led assault on the U.S. Capitol and the arrival of a new administration that favors tighter gun restrictions.
CNN Business: The Capitol Hill insurrection and the inauguration of a Democratic president who campaigned on strengthening gun control measures helped the firearms industry set a January gun sales record last month, according to data released Monday.
But where’s the evidence that “violent riots,” “a mob-led assault,” and “Capitol Hill insurrection” contributed to this record-setting January? The phrase “correlation does not imply causation” comes to mind.
The Associated Press and Washington Post report that an uptick in firearm sales have previously coincided with elections. It’s not uncommon for gun sales to rise and fall depending on the party in federal office. As the Post put it:
It’s common for gun sales to jump when a Democrat takes over the White House. In January 2009, when Barack Obama was inaugurated for his first term, the total number of firearm background checks registered through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) reached 1.2 million. That was a record at the time and a nearly 29 percent jump from January 2008.
In January 2017, when Trump was inaugurated, more than 2 million background checks were recorded, a 20 percent drop from 2016.
The Post and CNN also detected spikes after mass shootings and with the civil unrest that came along with the summer Black Lives Matter protests. CNN cited surging gun manufacturers’ stocks on January 6, the day of the Capitol riot, but went on to cite a report from Bespoke Investment Group that “said neither of the two most-notable publicly traded gun manufacturers, Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger (RGR), have performed that well in recent months.”
The NSSF reported record-setting gun sales in 2020 overall–a 60 percent increase over 2019. Forty percent of these sales were from first-time gun buyers.
NSSF spokesman Mark Oliva was quoted by CNN saying he thinks the uptick in sales was due to rhetoric from the Biden campaign.
“It can’t be discounted that many of these background checks for the purchase of a firearm are attributed to threats by the Biden administration to enact the most radical and far-reaching gun control agenda ever proposed,” Oliva told CNN.