In January 2016, just over a year before he would leave office, numerous media outlets proclaimed that then-President Barrack Obama was the “best gun salesman in America.” Every time he called for gun control there was not just an uptick in firearms sales but a surge. The same thing will likely continue as President Joe Biden launches his crusade to combat gun violence.
Enter Joe Biden
As the Associated Press recently reported, Biden’s views on gun regulation have evolved. While he was once reluctant to impose additional restrictions, and many Democrats also remember that the passage of the Federal Assault Weapon Ban (AWB) – a subsection of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 – was among the reasons that they lost control of both the House of Representatives and Senate. However, that fact has been largely overstated in the years since, and now it appears House and Senate Democrats are willing to push forward with gun control measures.
In some cases, such as the recent Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, there is even some Republican support. That bill, along with the Enhanced Background Checks Act, would expand background checks on gun purchases, the first significant movement on gun control since the Democrats took control of both chambers of Congress as well as the White House.
Will the Bills Pass?
While both bills passed the house, they would need the support of ten Republicans in the Senate – and that is unlikely to happen. But even the fact that it could be voted on is notable, as during the GOP control of the Senate such bills never made it to a floor vote. In 2019, the House passed a similar Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which had the support of eight Republicans. Then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) didn’t advance the bill to the Senate for a vote, stalling the legislation.
Current Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said Senate Democrats would hold hearings on gun violence and promised to hold a vote on the legislation. While that could be weeks incoming, in the meantime sales of firearms will likely continue and as a result, President Biden and Sen. Schumer could be the new “best gun salesmen in America.”
But there is also the issue that 2020 saw not only a record in overall firearms sales, but it saw a sizable jump in sales to African Americans and to women. Gun control has long been cited as racist, as many existing laws – especially those in the rural south – were passed in the era of “Jim Crow” to keep African Americans from owning a firearm. It will be worth seeing how any gun control can be passed and not met with pushback from the African American community, as well as women who seek to purchase a firearm for protection.
In the meantime, it is likely that sales will just continue to surpass records and even if there is a dip from last year’s records, 2021 promises to be a good year for the firearms industry.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.