Record numbers of Americans are arming themselves. Civil unrest and government restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus outbreak have led to a massive increase in the number of people attempting to buy guns.

National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry trade group, says the Federal Bureau of Investigation processed 7.8 million background checks for gun purchases between March and June.

The Wall Street Journal reports background checks for firearms were up 136 percent in June, compared to a year earlier: "Background checks in June for civilians seeking a license to carry were the highest since the FBI began conducting checks 20 years ago." That's a whole lot of concern.

The paper reports some of the nation's most troubled states saw record-breaking requests for background checks.

"Background checks for guns in Georgia tripled last month versus last year, according to NSSF data, and have more than doubled in Oklahoma, New York, Illinois, and Minnesota," the article reports. Dealers estimate that 40 percent of sales are going to first-time buyers.

Images of rioters and looters sacking and burning businesses and tangling with police have unnerved a great number of Americans. Video of an armed St. Louis couple forced to defend their home against "peaceful protesters" made it clear to many that they might have to fend for themselves when and if trouble comes to their door.

All of this followed on the heels of government lockdowns that forced schools, churches, and businesses to close and imposed restrictions on movement.

Many Americans believe that their basic liberties are being threatened and that the system is no longer willing or capable of protecting them. Data obtained by the Wall Street Journal seems to confirm those concerns.

"Sales of handguns, which are used for personal safety, are the strongest," the paper reported. "Nearly two handguns, commonly used for self-protection, are being sold for every rifle or shotgun, according to federal data."

The threat is real and Americans are preparing for what may come next.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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