Non-stop news coverage of riots in major cities across the country have suddenly underscored the importance and relevance of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, guaranteeing the ability of private citizens to protect their lives, property, neighborhood businesses and one another from violent anarchists.

Gun sales have spiked upward an estimated 80 percent over the same period last year. New data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation suggests that some 40 percent of all gun buyers in recent weeks were first-timers. They’ve been purchasing semi-auto pistols, semiautomatic modern sporting rifles and shotguns, in that order of preference.

When two looters tried to break into a South Philadelphia gun store, the owner fatally shot one suspect with his Bushmaster semi-auto rifle that gun prohibitionists like to call an “assault weapon.” The other suspect fled.

In Santa Monica, Calif., the owner of a liquor store stood in front of his business with an AR-15 rifle to discourage looters.

In Scottsdale, Arizona, armed citizens gathered at a jewelry store to prevent it from being ransacked.

In Washington state, dozens of armed citizens provided volunteer security to a Bonney Lake business, a commercial district in downtown Snohomish and businesses in Kirkland, outside Seattle. All of those places were alerted that rioters who had trashed downtown Seattle were apparently planning to spread their violence to the suburbs, but armed citizens discouraged them.

Unfortunately, in places such as New York City and Chicago, which have strict anti-gun-rights laws, business owners couldn’t defend their property.

To suggest the Second Amendment is obsolete is indefensible. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many people suddenly remembered the Second Amendment and prepared for the worst. The same principle applies now as we’ve watched small, fragile businesses just beginning to recover from COVID-19 closure orders destroyed by anarchists and looters to whom the name George Floyd — the Minneapolis man whose death sparked national protests — means nothing.

These people aren’t grieving citizens, they’re criminals. They’re not demonstrating against police brutality, they’re exploiting a tragedy to fulfill a wanton need to destroy and loot, and they are organized. Where they may get away with it because police may be under orders to use minimum force, that’s not a certainty when confronted by armed citizens, and they know it. There is a significant deterrent effect with an armed populace.

Polk County, Florida Sheriff Grady Judd observed, “The people in Polk County like guns, they have guns, I encourage them to own guns...”

The Second Amendment is, and always has been, designed to provide law-abiding citizens with the means to defend themselves during emergencies. America’s cities are under attack and the public has a right to defend their lives and property. The Second Amendment makes that possible.

Alan Gottlieb is founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, whose mission is “a better understanding about our constitutional heritage to privately own and possess firearms.” Dave Workman is communications director at the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, similarly dedicated to protecting Second Amendment rights.

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