As people become increasingly interested in buying and using firearms in the United States since COVID-19 lockdowns began in March and widespread rioting began in May, federal firearm background checks for 2020 reached 28.82 million this month, surpassing last year’s record of 28.36 million.
An updated report released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System processed 2.89 million background checks in September 2020 alone. The report also demonstrates that July produced the largest number of total background checks, 3.93 million, in the FBI’s NICS history.
These background checks are not exclusive to firearm sales, but they are required for gun purchases through federal firearms licensees (FFL), which the National Shooting Sports Foundation reports had a 61 percent increase compared to background checks issued for gun sales in September of 2019.
“At this pace, it is possible we could witness more than 20 million background checks for the sale of a firearm in 2020, widely eclipsing the strongest year on record of 2016, when 15.7 million background checks were conducted for the sale of firearms,” said Mark Olivia, director of public affairs at NSSF.
Although the September firearm checks appear to be down from other months this year, the NSSF says that the lockdowns played a massive role in the rise in firearm sales, especially when some politicians such as Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and West Palm Beach, Florida Mayor Keith James played into the public’s fears by legislating against gun freedoms and even “preventing the sale and public possession of firearms.”
“This has been a year unlike any other, where law-abiding Americans are seeing for themselves the need to be able to protect themselves and their family,” Olivia stated.
The “defund the police” movement also contributed to the large increase in gun sales in May when riots broke out around the nation. The same week of Geroge Floyd’s death in Minneapolis and riot-related violence and destruction began, “firearm sales went up 78 percent…compared to the same time in 2019.”
In addition to the unprecedented circumstances of lockdowns and rioting, Olivia said that panic buying due to the upcoming election is also a probable cause for the rise in background checks and sales.
“It cannot be discounted that threats by Joe Biden to confiscate, ban, register, and regulate out of existence, the firearms Americans want the most are driving sales,” Olivia said. “Background checks for firearm sales typically rise during election years in response to threats of gun control.”
“As previously stated, this is a year unlike any other, and voters are faced with a choice unlike any other. On one hand, is a candidate who has stood for preserving Second Amendment rights. On the other, is a candidate who is on the record for backing forcible confiscation of lawfully owned firearms. The biggest threat to Second Amendment rights today is Joe Biden, and gun buyers are reacting to that threat,” he added.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris are both strong advocates for increased gun restrictions. Not only has Biden called for a ban on “assault weapons and high-capacity magazines,” but the Biden/Harris platform is running on policies including issuing buyback programs for certain firearms, restricting how many guns someone can purchase per month, ending online sales of firearms and ammunition, and many more regulations.
Weapons of war have no place in our communities.
We need to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 14, 2020