Gun Sales Spike, FBI Background Checks Smash Records in May

Firearms instructor Joseph Wilkey conducts a firearms safety class outside Loveland, CO., March 24, 2020. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)

Gun sales and accompanying FBI background checks spiked last month, breaking records as the nation weathered the coronavirus pandemic and riots broke out in major cities over the death of George Floyd.

Already this year, the FBI has recorded 15 million background checks in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, closing in on breaking last year’s record of 28 million background checks.

A total of 3,091,455 checks were recorded in May, the highest May number since the system was created 22 years ago, and the third highest month on record. The highest number of checks in one month occurred in March, which recorded a record 3,740,688 checks.

Meanwhile, gun sales have surged since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. April saw 1.7 million firearms purchases, a 71 percent spike from the previous April. Gun sales spiked higher in March with 2.6 million purchases, an 85.3 percent increase over the previous year, according to Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting.

Protests and riots broke out in cities across the country last week over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody after a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes during an arrest, persisting even after Floyd passed out. During the riots, footage emerged of business owners and other civilians in several metropolitan areas protecting businesses from rioters and looters by posting outside with firearms.

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