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The number of FBI background checks conducted last month for people attempting to purchase firearms shattered the previous all-time record, and experts say the surge in gun sales was directly tied to current events rocking the United States.
“The new coronavirus pandemic, civil unrest after the killing of George Floyd and the ensuing movement to defund police are bringing in new buyers worried about their personal safety, according to buyers, store owners and gun experts,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “In June, background checks for firearms were up 136%, compared to a year earlier … background checks in June for civilians seeking a license to carry were the highest since the FBI began conducting checks 20 years ago.”
FBI statistics that were released at the start of the month showed that 3,931,607 background checks were processed last month, which is by far the most ever recorded. The previous all-time record was set in March – when parts of the U.S. began going into shutdown over the coronavirus – when 3,740,688 were conducted.
Firearm sales in June were the highest monthly sales since data collection began in 1998: 3.9M firearms sold. @phil_wellesley and Robin McKnight explore the trend, as well as potential causes and consequences. https://t.co/X7ZdI0zP3X pic.twitter.com/WKRchQ07SK
— Brookings Econ (@BrookingsEcon) July 13, 2020
The Journal reports that dealers estimate that some 40% of sales have been going to first-time buyers, “an increase over the normal average of about a quarter,” and are claiming that many of the new buyers “are people who say they never thought they would own a firearm and were previously critical of those who did.”
The surge in gun sales comes as the U.S. has experienced a wave of violent riots in response to the death of George Floyd. The riots have spanned from Los Angeles to New York City, and ultimately led to calls from leftist activists and Democrat politicians to defund the police. Violent crime has surged in inner cities in the days and weeks following the riots and the demonization of law enforcement officials.
Social media was flooded with images of rioters destroying police cars that were abandoned by law enforcement officials, looters stealing items from stores, and criminals attacking law enforcement officials by hurling objects at them and even running them over.
POLICE CARS DESTROYED: Rioters destroy a line of police cars, ghost riding them into each other and setting them on fire in West Philadelphia.
— FOX 29 (@FOX29philly) May 31, 2020
One gun buyer told the Journal that he was applying for a permit because he feared that law enforcement officials would not be able to protect him, saying, “I don’t want to ever shoot anybody ever. But if I had to duck and shoot back in self-defense, at least I’d have a chance.”
John Kingdon, a registered Democrat who has been a gun control activist in the past, told the paper that he purchased a semi-automatic pistol just a couple of months ago, saying, “If I had a hard time getting police to respond to me when we weren’t in a pandemic, what about now?”
British media personality Piers Morgan, who opposes the Second Amendment, derided the surge in Americans engaging in their constitutionally protected right, writing on Twitter: “Just when you thought the news couldn’t [be] more depressing…8.3 million guns have been sold in the United States since March, meaning 2020 is on course to be the biggest year for gun sales in American history.”
BREAKING: Just when you thought the news couldn't more depressing…8.3 million guns have been sold in the United States since March, meaning 2020 is on course to be the biggest year for gun sales in American history.
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) July 1, 2020