Handguns up 91%, background checks 94% in virus scare
People ran to gun stores in record numbers as they searched for self-defense weapons amid the coronavirus horror, which increased sales by 83% in March and resulted in a record number of instant background checks by the FBI.
Industry officials said handguns, rifles, AR-style guns and ammunition flew off shelves as states and the federal government began to lock down communities. Many who bought guns said they feared the lockdowns would cause chaos or riot.
The FBI recorded 3,740,688 background checks in March, the most in one month of all time – and that for a mile. Another record-breaker in February saw 2,802,467 checks.
In that year alone, 9,245,857 background checks were carried out, mostly for weapon purchases. This number is higher than the total number of the country’s gun background checks for each year from 1988 to 2005.
Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting, which compiles estimates for arms sales, estimates a total of 2,583,328 arms were sold in March. This corresponds to an increase of 83% compared to March 2019, according to the data shared with Secrets.
They estimate that handgun sales rose 91% to 1,534,000 weapons in March 2019. And the rifles rose 73% to 835,663.
Gun dealer anecdotes indicated that most of these guns were AR and AK style rifles and shotguns.
Justin Anderson, the director of marketing for Hyatt Guns in Charlotte, North Carolina, one of the largest in the country, told Secrets that there would be a line at the door for a week. “Our day-to-day business has literally quadrupled and we have had three record days in a row. Self-defense weapons, including AR-15 and shotguns, and ammunition are the hottest goods, ”he said.
And he added, “Suffice it to say, it was crazier than I’ve ever seen in this business in 13 years!”
SAAF Chief Economist Jürgen Brauer said: “As expected by the general media and internal industry reports, firearms sales boomed in March 2020 mainly due to the COVID-19 health crisis.”