Gun sales in January set a record for the number of firearms purchased in the first month of the year as Democrats took control of the Senate and President Joe Biden transitioned into the White House.
Gun stores sold about 2.2 million firearms last month, up from 1.2 million sales in January 2020, about an 80% increase, according to Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting (SAAF). The spike in sales accompanied a record amount of FBI background checks ever completed in one month: 4,317,804, according to Fox News.
SAAF calculates the number of firearms sold over a given time period by analyzing data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System and controlling for factors such as multiple guns bought by one person or someone receiving a background check for something other than a gun purchase.
“January 2021 certainly started off with a sales ‘bang’ due to the turmoil surrounding the confirmation and inauguration of Mr. Biden as the new U.S. President,” SAAF Chief Economist Jurgen Brauer said in a statement. “The 79% year-over-year increase, however, was NOT unprecedented – an even higher increase, of just over 100%, was experienced in January 2013, the month Mr. Obama’s second presidential term began.”
Gun sales typically rise along with unrest and uncertainty, as well as when politicians push for gun control during elections or after tragic events such as school shootings. For example, gun sales spiked after mass protests and riots erupted following the death of George Floyd in May. Gun stores sold 2.8 million firearms in June and 2.5 million firearms in July.
Much of the demand is likely due to the Democratic president taking control of the White House after campaigning on restricting access to guns, according to National Shooting Sports Federation spokesman Mark Oliva. Democrats also took control of the Senate while retaining control of the House.
“They’re going to act while they can to be able to buy what they want,” Oliva told CNN. “It can’t be discounted that many of these background checks for the purchase of a firearm are attributed to threats by the Biden administration to enact the most radical and far-reaching gun control agenda ever proposed.”
Uneasiness felt following the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol building may have also driven some of the increased demand for firearms last month.
“I think there’s still concerns for safety,” Oliva added. “There’s people who fear they’re not going to be able to provide their own safety.”
Throughout his campaign, Biden pledged to ban so-called “assault weapons.” In March, then-candidate Biden announced that former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), who dropped out of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, would lead Biden’s efforts on gun control.
“I wanna make something clear, I’m going to guarantee you this is not the last you’ve seen of [O’Rourke],” Biden told a crowd of supporters at the time. “You’re going to take care of the gun problem with me. You’re going to be the one who leads this effort.”
One of the central issues of O’Rourke’s failed presidential bid was strict gun control, including a ban on AR-15s, the most popular rifles in the United States.
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