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Gun Sales Spike, FBI Background Checks Set New Record

AR-15 rifles displayed for sale at a gun show in Oaks, Pa., in 2017 (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Background checks for gun sales spiked again in June, setting a new record for the highest number of checks in one month as nationwide protests, riots and the coronavirus pandemic continued to increase safety concerns for many.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System conducted 3.9 million checks in June, an increase of 70 percent over June 2019. Last month’s numbers broke the previous record of 2.7 million checks set in March.

Already this year, the FBI has recorded 19 million background checks in the system, more than were recorded during first 14 years of the system, which has been operating since 1998. Only six months into 2020, the surge in checks is already nearing last year’s record of 28 million background checks.

The number is not a representation of gun sales, but is used to estimate the number of weapons that trade hands. Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting, a consulting firm that tracks the gun market, estimates that 2.3 million firearms were sold in June, a year-over-year increase of 145.3% from June 2019.

Protests, riots and looting have raged across the country in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody. Footage surfaced online of armed business owners and civilians in multiple cities protecting businesses from rioters and looters. 

Other sources of concern for gun buyers may include gun control advocate Joe Biden’s presidential candidacy, as well as concern that other states might follow Virginia’s suit in setting new gun limits

The Washington Examiner reported a backlog on weapons, ammunitions and parts.

The marketing director for one of the biggest sellers in the nation, Hyatt Guns of Charlotte, North Carolina, told The Washington Examiner, “I’ve been in this business going on 14 years, and I have never seen this much demand. There are shortages of nearly every single defensive firearm currently manufactured.”

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