The number of Americans seeking gun permits ahead of this year’s contentious presidential election has reached a record high just days before voters head to the polls, according to new government data on background checks for gun sales.
The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, revealed that nearly 2.3 million background checks for gun purchases were processed in the month of October — setting an all-time monthly record. This is the 18th straight month gun-related background checks have reached record highs, ABC News reports.
“The approximate number of firearms units sold has increased,” Jurgen Brauer, an economics professor at Augusta University who specializes in the firearm industry, said of the increase. “Part of that is because we’re seeing a population increase across the country, it’s currently hunting season and there is a pre-election impact.”
“Right now, there is a likelihood that a Democratic candidate is going to win, and industry sales reflect that,” he continued.
The incendiary rhetoric of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump might also be a possible cause for Americans’ sudden rush to get their hands on a gun permit. Over the last few months, Trump has made bogus claims of a rigged election and impending constitutional crisis if Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton wins the race for president.
The real estate tycoon turned politician encouraged “lone wolf patriots” to poll watch on Election Day, in the event that someone tries to commit voter fraud. A few staunch Trump supporters have taken his entreaties quite literally, promising to show up to the polls to monitor — and ultimately intimidate voters — who may support the GOP candidate.
There’s also the looming fear of what might happen after the election if Trump doesn’t come out on top. The threat of violence has some Americans ready to take up arms — in defense and offense.
“What’s most troubling is this correlation between soaring gun sales and an increasingly turbulent and violent political atmosphere,” said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “Thanks to Trump, Americans are scared of what might happen on Election Day, even canceling class at schools with polling places over fear of this violence.”
Self-appointed militias have also threatened violence should the outcome of the election not be in their favor. According to Atlanta Black Star, the Georgia-based Three Percent Security Force said it would mobilize if Hillary Clinton won over voters on Election Day. The militia also warned that if civil strife erupted, they’d be ready with guns in their hands in the days after the polls close.
“This is the last chance to save America from ruin,” Chris Hill, leader of the Georgia TPSF branch said. “We’ve [been] building up for this, just like the Marines. We are going to really train harder and try to increase our operational capabilities in the event that this is the day that we hoped would never come.”
According to the Washington Times, gun control bills to prevent such violence have all but stalled on Capitol Hill. The next Congress will likely be under pressure to make gun control reforms in the months following the election — especially if any acts of violence occur.
With Trump being a staunch advocate of Second Amendment rights and Clinton an avid supporter of gun control, there’s no telling which way pending gun legislation will fall. Either way, Americans seem ready to get their hands on a gun just in case something pops off.