FBI Reports Record Number of Background Checks in June as Gun Sales Surge

July 1, 2020 Updated: July 1, 2020

Gun retailers across the nation executed a record number of background checks in June on people seeking to purchase or possess a firearm, according to statistics from the FBI.

The FBI reported that 3,931,607 background checks were conducted through the National Instant Background Check System in June, the highest number since the bureau began to track the statistic 14 years ago.

While the number of background checks doesn’t necessarily correlate with the number of gun sales in a given month, the figure is used for forecasts and estimates. Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting, an organization that filters out unrelated background checks and factors in retailer reports, estimated that that gun sales soared 145 percent compared to June 2019.

The increase was particularly steep in handgun sales, which surged more than 177 percent year-over-year to more than 1.51 million units. Long gun sales jumped by more than 114 percent, with 690,212 units sold in June.

“Relative to same-month sales in June 2019, firearms sales soared yet again in June 2020. Once more, demand was particularly strong for handguns. The first week of June saw especially high background check volumes, presumably related to the aftermath of the killing of Mr. George Floyd,” said Jurgen Brauer, chief economist at Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting (SAAF).

Gun sales began to boom in March amid the fears and lockdowns related to the pandemic of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus. According to SAAF, actual firearms sales peaked in March as news of the CCP virus outbreak dominated media headlines around the world. The five days from March 17 to March 21 take up half of the top 10 days with the highest number of background checks, according to the FBI.

The sales boom continued through June amid nationwide protests and riots in the wake of Floyd’s death, as well as the coronavirus pandemic, increased safety concerns for many. In addition, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is running on a strict gun control platform, which also may be driving some purchases among buyers wary of a Democratic triumph in November.

Four weeks in June are now in the top 10 weeks with the highest number of background checks since the FBI began keeping records in 1998. The week of June 1–7, when the rioting was most intense, had the second-highest number of total background checks.

Buds Gun Shop, a major online gun retailer, advised its customers recently that shipments may be significantly delayed because of increased order volume.

“Our sales were within just a few thousand dollars of doubling in June 2020, as compared to 2019,” said Rex McClanahan, the owner of Buds. “Popular guns and ammo SKU’s have been sold out for some time and now, it is becoming a challenge to keep anything in stock that is among the higher-demand categories.”

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