More than 2 million firearms were bought last month – an 80% year-over-year spike and the third-highest one-month total on record, according to an analysis from the Washington Post.
Michigan and New Jersey recorded the biggest percentage change in firearm purchases in January compared with the previous year, at more than triple the national rate. Estimated firearm purchases climbed to an unprecedented 2.1 million in March, early in the coronavirus pandemic when cities and states issued stay-at-home orders to contain the spread of the deadly disease. Then the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd spawned social unrest that fed into even higher gun sales of “2.8 million in June and 2.5 million in July.” Nearly 23 million firearms were bought in 2020, representing a 64 percent jump year over year. Sales estimates are based on methodology surveying handgun, long gun, and multiple-gun background checks leading to purchases.
The Washington Post notes that many are concerned about a democrat President who is focused on many gun reform issues. Biden pledged during his campaign to reinstate a ban on the manufacture and sale of “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines. He also proposed a buyback program that would require owners to sell them to the federal government or register them under the National Firearms Act. In January 2009, when Barack Obama was inaugurated for his first term, the total number of firearm background checks registered through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) reached 1.2 million. That was a record at the time and a nearly 29 percent jump from January 2008. In January 2017, when Trump was inaugurated, more than 2 million background checks were recorded, a 20 percent drop from 2016.
According to a survey conducted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation last summer, roughly 40 percent — or 8.4 million — of the guns purchased in 2020 were by first-time buyers. It also found that 40 percent of the purchasers were women. In addition, they found that most firearms sold last year were small handguns, typically used for self-defense or personal safety. Steven Dulan, who teaches firearms law at Western Michigan University’s Thomas M. Cooley Law School and is on the board of the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners, said he has heard of new gun owners buying firearms as an investment, like a precious metal. Far more common, he said, are the reports from first-time buyers who say they no longer trust police departments to protect them, especially after some agencies were overwhelmed by protesters during the summer.
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: USA TODAY