Arming Up: Gun Sales Surging in 2020


Toilet paper, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes aren't the only items flying off shelves in 2020. Americans are buying firearms at a record clip this year. FBI data shows there were more than 3.6 million firearms background checks in July, shattering the previous July record by some 1.5 million. In fact, every month in 2020 so far has seen a record number of firearm background checks for that month. "By and large, we all agree that the numbers we see now have not been seen like this before," says Jurgen Brauer with Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting. "I expect that the first eight months of this year will see more (gun) sales than the entirety of the last year."

FBI background checks don't necessarily translate directly to gun sales on a one-to-one basis, but Small Arms Analytics estimates that, based on the data, more than 2.3 million firearms were sold in June, an increase of 145 percent over the same month last year. "This is supposed to be the low season of the year, and yet the numbers are incredibly high," says Brauer.

As for what's behind the surge in gun sales, it's no surprise. The spike began last spring at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, then summer brought more upheaval. "COVID-19 was one thing, then the riots we have seen in various cities," says Brauer. "And essentially fear of firearms restriction, but also fear for one's own personal safety."

With all of those factors still present, along with a looming election, it's likely this trend will continue. "As long as COVID and the associated security and safety situations remain unresolved, especially going into the presidential election, we will probably continue to see elevated (gun) sales this year," says Brauer.

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