Background checks for gun sales soared to an all-time record in March, reportedly spurred on by President Joe Biden’s threats to increase federal gun regulations, and by a wave of $1400 COVID-19 stimulus checks.
U.S. News and World Report noted Thursday that the FBI reported a record number of gun background checks in March. The bureau “conducted nearly 4.7 million background checks, breaking the record high that was just set in January, another month that was marked with violence and turmoil.”
“March’s background checks represent a 36% increase from February, which saw about 3.44 million checks. Additionally, nearly 1 million more background checks took place last month than in March 2020,” the outlet added.
Although it is not clear whether every background check resulted in a gun purchase — each individual sale is governed by varying state laws, and many buyers may not pass the FBI investigation — an increase in the number of background checks does appear to correlate with an increase in the number of gun sales, according to the Washington Examiner, citing gun retailer groups.
“After the FBI release, for example, Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting reported that sales are set to break the yearly record of 22.8 million in 2021. ‘For the first quarter of 2021 as a whole, about 5.9 million firearms were sold as opposed to 5.2 million in the first quarter of 2020. If this rate of sales were to be sustained throughout 2021, last year’s record sales of 22.8 million would be broken,'” one group noted to the Examiner.
The increase in the number of background checks also seems to correlate with the threat of increased gun regulation, and in March, the number of gun background checks spiked following two reported mass shootings, both of which were followed by an increase in gun control rhetoric from the White House.
“Of the top 10 days for most background checks, six were in March 2021, according to FBI data, including the top three days,” US News reported. “Following deadly mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, Colorado, gun sales soared and five of the top days occurred following either one or both shootings.”
“In addition to mass shootings, gun-control legislation can also be a driver of gun sales and House Democrats on March 11 passed a pair of gun-control bills that would expand background check requirements on all gun sales and transfers,” the outlet noted.
Indeed, President Joe Biden is expected to announce gun control executive orders on Thursday that will expand federal background checks, outlaw sales of “ghost guns” — homemade, often 3D printed firearms, without serial numbers — and implement so-called “red flag” provisions, controversial rules that limit gun sales to people who have a record of being treated for mental illness.
The Biden administration has, as of yet, refused to commit to stricter regulations on so-called “assault” weapons and high-capacity magazines, noting in previous interactions with the media that those restrictions must be passed by Congress.
The Washington Examiner also noted that the Biden administration may have inadvertently spurred the increase in gun sales by passing a coronavirus relief bill that issued $1400 stimulus checks to most American taxpayers.
“There are obvious factors at play here: Biden’s gun rhetoric being No. 1, as well as two mass shootings that were heavily covered in the media. However, we also saw a lot of transactions of around $1,400 starting on March 17, so it appears many people are using their stimulus money to buy guns,” one gun retailer told the examiner.