When it looked all but certain that Hillary Clinton was going to win the presidency, nervous gun rights advocates reported stockpiling guns and ammunition they feared would no longer be available if the Democrat won the White House.
The threat of Clinton presidency, along with several recent mass shootings, had led to 18 straight months of records in the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check system for people seeking a permit to buy a firearm. Many were concerned the government would enact regulations restricting their access to guns.
But since Republican Donald Trump, who was endorsed by the National Rifle Association and supports gun rights, won the White House in November, gun shops anticipated sales would taper off. Shares in major gun companies fell, anticipating a slowdown.
Yet that doesn’t seem to be the case: On Black Friday this year, NICB processed a record 185,713 background checks — the most ever on a single day in the 20 years the system has existed.
And some of those gun buyers are what the industry calls “non-traditional.” Namely, minorities, gay people and self-described liberals.
“In the more conservative gun world, there is definitely a feeling that liberals hate guns,” Liberal Gun Club spokesperson Lara Smith told the BBC. She said there as been a spike in inquiries to her organization after Trump’s election and that paid membership has increased 10 percent. People have expressed concern that an increase in hate crimes since Trump’s election could escalate into something more violent, Smith said, and they want to be prepared.
“Yes, there are liberals who dislike guns, but the vast majority of them have never been around guns and don’t know much about them other than what they are told,” Smith wrote on her organization’s website.
Smith said she has been working with other non-traditional gun groups like Black Guns Matter and Pink Pistols. Pink Pistols promotes “legal, safe, and responsible use of firearms for self-defense of the sexual-minority community.” The group, which has 45 chapters nationwide, calls itself a shooting group that “honors diversity” and “teaches queers to shoot.” Although it has worked in conjunction with the NRA, the Pink Pistols considers itself non-partisan.
Gun shop owner Michael Cargill told NBC News gun classes at his Austin, Texas store are selling out. He’s noticed an increase in LGBTQ, African-American, Hispanic and Muslim customers. Store owners told NBC they’ve seen up to four times as many minority customers than is typical.
The National African American Gun Association, which has 14,000 members, has seen an increase in interest following the election.
“Most folks are pretty nervous about what kind of America we’re going to see over the next 5-10 years,” the organization’s founder Philip Smith told NBC. “I tell everyone don’t panic, use your head. If you see something not normal, get out. You’re probably right. And if you’re not able to get out, you’re prepared to do what you need to do.”