US gun sales in the United States reached a record level last year. This happened as the government increased background checks for firearms overlapping with months of social and political unrest. Industry data and firearms background checks showed that Americans purchased nearly 23 million guns in 2020. This represents a 65% increase compared with 2019, which registered 13.9 million guns sold. South Carolina consulting firm Small Arms Analytics provided the numbers. Firearms industry publications and background checks remain the best sources for gauging sales.
FBI Background Checks Increased As Well
Meanwhile, FBI background checks on gun buyers increased all year in 2020. The biggest jumps happened in March, June, July, and December. They overlapped with major political and social unrest. However, background checks do not correlate directly to the number of guns sold.
For example, the FBI conducted more than 3.7 million background checks last March. This heightened activity coincided with the start of the country’s pandemic lockdown. The 2020 numbers number 1 million more compared with March 2019. The next time the background checks surged was during the George Floyd protests. During this time, they increased to 3.9 million in June and 3.6 million in July. In comparison, 2.3 million background checks in June and 2 million in July happened in 2019. Finally, another surge in background checks happened in November after the presidential elections. Checks numbered at 3.6 million in November and 3.9 million in December. That compares to 2.6 million in November 2019 and 2.9 million in December 2019.
Jump in US Gun Sales Also in 2021
The upsurge in gun sales continued into 2021. After the January 6 Capitol riots, the FBI received a record 4.3 million background check requests made by gun dealers. This is up from the 2.7 million requests made in January of the previous year. Meanwhile, February brought the number down a bit at 3.4 million. However, this is still 23% up compared to February 2019 numbers.
New Buyers Hit the Market
Ken Baye is the owner of Stoddard’s Range and Guns in Atlanta, Georgia. He said he’s witnessing a different kind of customer these days: new shooters. More and more new gun owners are getting one for themselves. “We see a lot of women come in, a lot of couples, people with children,” he said. “We're really seeing pretty much every walk of life.
“It just seems like we live in chaos and this is giving me some kind of control over that chaos,” said Atlanta resident Syra Arzu, 38. After years of thinking that she never felt the need for a gun, the single mother of three young children now wanted one. Once she bought one, her friend bought another for herself. Another friend followed with a purchase of his own.
National African American Gun Association
Philip Smith is the founder of the National African American Gun Association (NAAGA). He said many new gun owners are those who five years ago would buy a gun. Covid-19 was the game-changer, Smith said.
“That was something that had people, regardless of color, regardless of your social background, your economic status, you said to yourself, ‘OK if we don't have food next week, what are we going to do to protect ourselves and our families?'” he added. In fact, NAAGA reported growth of around 900 new members a month, Smith said.
US Gun Sales Increase When A Democrat Wins the White House
The numbers also show that gun sales usually go higher whenever a Democrat wins the White House. 2016 marked the year that set the previous record of 15.7 million guns sold. This was when many gun owners thought former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would win the 2016 Presidential election. In addition, gun sales surges followed former President Barack Obama’s win and reelection.
Watch the CNBC news report asking “Will Gun Sales And Gun Stocks Continue To Surge In 2021?”
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