March set a record for gun sales as Americans braced for the impact of COVID-19 on society.
The research consultancy Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting estimated that 2.6 million guns were sold last month, an 85 percent increase from March 2019’s total of about 1.4 million guns.
Signifying the need Americans felt for personal protection, 1.5 million handguns were purchased, a 91 percent increase over March 2019, according to the group.
Sales of rifles and other firearms classified as long guns totaled 836,000, an increase of 73.6 percent over a year ago.
According to FBI data, the bureau recorded 3.7 million background checks in March, eclipsing a record set a month earlier with 2.8 million checks in February.
The first three months of 2020 have resulted in 9.2 million FBI background checks, a total higher than the annual background checks for each year from 1988 through 2005.
SAAF uses the FBI data but makes adjustments for “checks unlikely to be related to end-user firearms sales” to get a more accurate picture of gun purchases.
Justin Anderson, the marketing director for Hyatt Guns in Charlotte, North Carolina, said business has been booming.
“Our daily business literally quadrupled, and we had three record days in a row. Self-defense guns, including AR-15s and shotguns, and ammo are the hot commodities,” he said, according to the Washington Examiner.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s assessment of sales data also led it to label March the largest month on record for gun sales, NSSF spokesman Mark Oliva said, according to The Washington Free Beacon.
“Americans across the country chose to exercise their right to lawfully purchase a gun when their safety became more than a rhetorical question,” Oliva said.
“The figures are simply eye-popping,” he said. “Retailers have been telling us that the overwhelming majority of those buying firearms over the last month have been first-time gun owners. This puts to rest America’s thoughts on gun-control ideas.”
Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, which has battled efforts to close gun stores as part of coronavirus restrictions, told The Free Beacon the sales figures are not a surprise.
“With a major uncharted health crisis that could result in a collapse of social order. With criminal inmates being let out of prison. With attempts to shut down gun stores and close down the ability of people to obtain firearms and ammunition for self-defense, [this is] what you would expect,” he said.
Jurgen Brauer, chief economist for Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting, said March sales might lead to low inventories and high prices.
“Much of the industry’s inventory will have been depleted, so that we anticipate that weapons and ammunition prices increased as well,” Brauer said in a statement.
He also said the level of handgun sales in March was unique.
“The spurt in firearms sales in March 2020 was particularly notable for its handgun component: The ratio of handguns to long-guns sold now stands at a record 1.84, the highest ratio since the introduction of the NICS checks in late 1998.”
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