“I really didn’t expect to be thinking about purchasing a gun. It was something that my father did and I rolled my eyes at him.”
Gun sales in America hit record levels in October amid fears a Hillary Clinton election victory would lead to increased controls.
Many expected the election of Donald Trump, whose candidacy was backed by the National Rifle Association, to bring an end to the panic buying. Shares in gun manufacturers dropped by as much as 18% following his victory.
But instead FBI background checks for gun transactions soared to a new record for a single day – 185,713 – during the Black Friday sales on 25 November, according to gun control news site The Trace.
Some of this has been put down to gun retailers selling off stock at reduced prices, but there have also been reports of more “non-traditional” buyers, such as African Americans and other minorities, turning up at gun shops and shooting ranges.
Lara Smith, national spokesperson for the Liberal Gun Club, says her organisation has seen a “huge” rise in enquiries since November’s election and a 10% increase in paid members.
Some of the new members are reluctant first-time gun owners, says Smith, concerned that isolated acts of aggression against minorities could escalate into something more violent and that a Trump administration will dismantle key constitutional rights, leading to a “more fascist rule than the US has ever had”.
The club, which has nine chapters and members in all 50 states, aims to provide a forum for people whose political beliefs do not fit the traditional right-wing gun enthusiast stereotype.
The club’s members have a keen sense of irony, joking in their discussion forumsabout drinking herbal tea and practising yoga “to get fired-up to hit the range”.
“In the more conservative gun world, there is definitely a feeling that liberals hate guns,” says Smith, who voted for Hillary Clinton and describes herself as a “moderate Democrat”.
“If you go into gun forums and discuss your politics, you are very clearly not welcome. Libtard [an abbreviation of ‘liberal retard’] is one of the nicer things they say. It can get pretty nasty very quickly.”
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