As riots in major —and not so major— cities around the country continue to erupt, more people are choosing firearms to protect their businesses, homes, and families. Is that the duty of these individuals, or is protection of life and property the responsibility of law enforcement?

What began as peaceful protesting against the horrific May 25th death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, has been joined by rioters and looters who are not helping the cause the protesters started out to publicize. George Floyd’s own brother Terrance asked the rioters to stop the violence, saying, “That’s not going to bring my brother back.”

Law enforcement nationwide has been overrun by crowds of rioters and looters, and has been unable to protect businesses and public property. Minneapolis issued a stand down order early in the riots, as the city burned. The cost of the property damage will be enormous, especially on the businesses that had been closed due to COVID-19, and had just reopened.

This is leading more business owners to do what it takes to defend their property, including taking up arms.

In Cleveland OH, the owner of Corbo’s bakery, and his sons, armed themselves and stood at the door of their family business. Most rioters took note of the armed presence and moved on. While Corbo’s lost only one window, other businesses on the same street as Corbo’s were not spared.

In Los Angeles, gun store owners are reporting demand they have not seen since the 1992 riots, which followed the LAPD beating of Rodney King. Dave Schwartz of Burbank Ammo & Guns said that people are looking to protect their homes and families. He said that Glocks and 12-gauge shotguns have been the “hot sellers.” 

But it’s not just handguns and shotguns people are using for defense; some store owners are turning to the widely popular AR-15 to defend their stores. An unnamed liquor store owner in Santa Monica, California used an AR-15 to defend his store. He said that the looters kept walking when they saw his AR-15, and the arms carried by his friends who were standing guard with him. This is reminiscent of the Korean store owners in Los Angeles who iconically stood on the roofs of their businesses to defend their property with many types of firearms, including AR-15 rifles.

There were a record number of NICS instant background checks in the first 5 months of this year, and June is predicted to be even stronger as anecdotally, many first-time gun owners are considering buying a gun for the first time in their lives. From January through May 2020, there have been over 15 million NICS checks, a 32% increase over the same 5-month period in 2019. Gun purchases do not appear to be slowing down.

If there are not sufficient numbers of law enforcement personnel to protect people, businesses, and homes in these times of civil unrest, the duty falls on the individual to be able to responsibly protect themselves. That is just what is happening.