MINNEAPOLIS — Americans are buying guns and ammunition at a clip rarely if ever seen in history, not only in this nation, but anywhere, at any time, worldwide.
Consider: In the first six months of last year, the FBI conducted more than 19 million background checks on Americans wanting to purchase or possess a gun. That's more background checks than were completed in the entirety of 2012 or any year before, dating to the system's origin in the late 1990s.
In June 2020 alone, 3.9 million background checks were completed, a record that topped the previous 30-day mark set three months previously.
Meanwhile, in Minnesota, 96,554 permits to carry a pistol or "concealed carry permits," were issued last year out of 101,897 applications. Compare that to 2019, when only 51,404 permits were issued.
Most Minnesota permits were given out in the metro. Hennepin was tops with 11,346 permits issued, followed by Dakota, Anoka, Ramsey and Washington counties.
Hunters and target shooters, of course, don't need statistics to know what has been obvious to them for a few years: While you might — might — be able to find the new gun you want to buy if you check enough shops and travel far enough, ammunition of all kinds is in very short supply.
For confirmation, check out any sporting-goods shop or other ammunition dealer. You'll likely be greeted by empty or sparsely stocked shelves and signs limiting the number of rounds one person can purchase if a particular caliber or gauge is in stock.
All of which is fascinating, considering the countless known and unknown sociological attitudes and beliefs that underlie the nation's gun-buying spree.
This is particularly true when considering the number of Minnesotans — 96,544! — who received permits to carry loaded and uncased handguns in public last year.
Certainly self-defense is one reason people buy handguns. Protecting one's home or other property is another. Still, other people are primarily interested in having the right to carry a loaded, uncased handgun in their vehicle, in case they become stranded somewhere or otherwise find trouble while traveling.