According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois State Police revealed that there has been a 500 percent increase in permit applications.
Such a development has not occurred in a vacuum. Millions of Americans nationwide have become frightened by the growing levels of social disorder that has emerged from the George Floyd riots.
In “a little more than two weeks this month”, 40,000 Illinoisans applied for gun permits.
Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas highlighted how overwhelmed the Illinois State Police has been by the rising number of applications:
The firearms services bureau of the Illinois State Police is taking an average of 94 business hours — not counting holidays, weekends, the day the gun is purchased, or the day the sale is approved or denied — to process background checks, roughly a day longer than usual, according to state police spokeswoman Beth Hundsdorfer.
The bureau is tasked with issuing firearm owner’s identification cards and concealed carry licenses, in addition to conducting background checks for licensed gun dealers when a sale is realized. According to Hundsdorfer, work began ramping up in March and began spiking in June.
From the period of June 1 to June 17, over 42,000 applications for FOID cards were filed. In contrast, approximately were filed 7,000 during the same timeframe in 2019, which represents a 501% increase.
Rosenberg-Douglas put these numbers in perspective:
The 42,089 applications over those 17 days come close to the 48,194 applications submitted in the months of December, January and February combined. Applications reached nearly 5,000 on a single day in June.
“We know that traditionally there’s an uptick in gun purchases around elections and major tragedies,” stated Noam Ostrander, an associate professor of social work at DePaul University.
“We saw, certainly, people buying a lot of guns after Barack Obama was elected because people thought, ‘Oh my God, they’re going to take away my guns.’ And we saw a strong rise in gun ownership among Black Americans after (Donald) Trump was elected because there was a witnessing of an emboldening of white supremacist groups and, I think, a fear,” Ostrander remarked.
“There’s two big predictors of gun ownership — not sport-type rifle owners — but among new gun owners usually, and that is perceived risk of victimization and then a belief that the world is a dangerous place,” he added. “And if we dig into that second one, right, the world does look like a dangerous place right now.”
Dan Eldridge, the owner of Maxon Shooter’s Supplies and Range in Des Plaines, claimed that about half the customers scheduling appointments in the present seem to be first-time buyers.
“The numbers I saw from the National Shooting Sports Foundation … said 40% of respondents to (store) surveys were new, first-time buyers. And of those, 40% are female — 40% of the 40%,” Eldridge observed. “We’re tracking 150% of a typical May in firearms sales … and that’s with being open by appointment only.”
Eldridge was rather shocked at the number of people buying defensive ammo.
“One stat that jumped out at me was defensive ammunition,” he noted. “You have two flavors of ammo, practice — or range — and self-defense, hollow-point, which is much more expensive. We saw May 2020 over May 2019 firearms sales were twice as high and defensive ammunition was 10 times as high.
“I’ll draw the obvious conclusion, which is that the number of new guns that are going into circulation is not as noteworthy,” Eldridge remarked. “What is significant is a whole lot of people who have firearms for their house or self-defense are saying, ‘I’d better have some ammunition for this thing or it’s not going to do me any good.’”
Even in one of the most anti-gun jurisdictions such as Illinois, gun owners are going out of their way to get strapped.
Illinois is currently ranked as the 41st best state for gun owners according to Guns & Ammo’s 2019 rankings.
No matter the obstacles they face, Americans will find ways to legally arm themselves.