The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Personal preparedness is a year-round commitment, and that’s why encouraging Americans and their families to take appropriate steps to educate themselves and prepare for emergencies that could occur in their homes, businesses, schools and communities is critical. There is no question that it’s important for Americans who live in areas vulnerable to wildfires, hurricanes, flooding and a variety of other threats to take the right steps in advance and to have a plan in place to protect themselves.
But what we’ve also been seeing across the country this year is that even in communities not traditionally at risk for natural disasters, crime or other threatening elements, record numbers of Americans are preparing and taking important steps to protect themselves and their loved ones. It’s a topic that often does not receive the attention it deserves from the national media and others who do not necessarily appreciate or understand the concept of self-defense. I’m referring to the millions of Americans who decided this year to be first-time gun owners.
Americans across the nation are embracing their right to self-defense more than ever. In fact, last year, the number of concealed handgun permits soared to more than 18 million — a 304 percent increase since 2007. This year alone, the FBI conducted over 28.8 million firearms-related background checks, a number that just broke the record of 28.3 million checks conducted in 2019. Since the start of the pandemic, gun sales have surged, with one report showing that first-time gun owners reached nearly 5 million from January to July of this year. Most recently, September was the ninth consecutive month of record firearms-related background checks. This incredible surge in gun sales has even caused shortages of supply in some areas.
This uptick in self-defense education and gun ownership has translated into record numbers of new members of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association (USCCA), where we provide education, training and legal protection to responsible and law-abiding Americans.
An increase in gun sales makes perfect sense. As the coronavirus pandemic, protests and riots in American communities have threatened law-abiding citizens’ safety and exacerbated anxieties, the right to self-defense and personal security has become an increasingly important priority for millions of Americans. They want to be able to protect themselves, and they want to know that law and order will be upheld.
Firearms owners who embrace the notion of personal preparedness are very familiar with the fact that we must ensure all Americans can continue to protect themselves, and exercise their Second Amendment rights. Thankfully, President Trump has not only stood behind our brave law enforcement officers – but also defended our Second Amendment rights by ensuring gun stores were declared essential during the coronavirus pandemic. This action allowed millions of Americans to exercise their rights and focus on preparedness in times of uncertainty, and feel secure that they could be the first line of defense for their family.
It is of the utmost importance that those who value and want to protect the Second Amendment participate in elections this fall to ensure their voices are heard. We can’t stand by and allow our constitutional rights to erode by failing to stand up to those who want to take them from us.
There are politicians in office right now who are so eager to curb Second Amendment rights that they will ignore the reality that millions of Americans embraced this year.Many of these politicians are running for election or re-election in November. Voter registration drives are well underway in many states, and we should all be marking our calendars for Election Day. At a time when constitutional rights are under attack, the best way to defend them is to vote for candidates who are strong proponents of the right to bear arms.
Tim Schmidt is the president and founder of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association and may be contacted at [email protected].