- Background checks for guns hit a record in March 2021, the FBI reported.
- Close to 4.7 million background checks were conducted, a 77% increase compared to March 2019.
- Experts told CNN, fear during the pandemic and social unrest is fueling a rise in gun ownership.
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The Federal Bureau of Investigations reported close to 4.7 million background checks for new gun purchases in March, the largest on record since the FBI began tracking them 20 years ago, revealing a record number of firearms sales in the US.
The figure is a 77% increase compared to March 2019. The agency conducted over a million more background checks in March 2021 compared to March 2020, which also saw a record number of gun sales.
The New York Times previously reported in March 2020, a record number of Americans were buying guns due to the uncertainty of the pandemic.
“We attribute it mainly to the virus scare,” Larry Hyatt, who owns a gun store in North Carolina and saw a record number of sales at the time told the Times.
Hyatt told The Times he’s seen similar influxes of people buying guns in the past.
“People have a little lack of confidence that if something big and bad happens, that 911 might not work. We saw it with Katrina,” Hyatt said. “People haven’t forgotten that a disaster happened, and the government didn’t come.”
Months with the highest number of FBI background checks like March, June, July, and December show months where there was political or social unrest.
CNN reported there’s a record number of first-time gun buyers, like Robin Armstrong who told the outlet the current instability in the country made her want to buy firearms.
“We’ve also seen, in times of civil unrest, that we see people go out and say that they need to protect themselves,” Jack McDevitt, a criminology professor and the director of the Institute on Race and Justice at Northeastern University told CNN. “So they’re going to buy guns to protect themselves.”