Annual Guns Sales in the US Hit Record High

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Even though November and December could not yet be counted in the study, experts believe the holiday season will lead to a surge in firearm sales.

The year isn’t quite over but authorities can already declare firearm sales in 2020 to have reached a record high, surpassing the previous record set in 2016. And number of gun sales isn’t expected to slow down in the coming months, as the holiday season tends to traditionally be the busiest months for buying guns, the National Shooting Sports Foundation said.

The trade association for the firearms industry explained they came to that conclusion by viewing the number of background checks completed by the FBI’s National instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) as a proxy for the amount of gun sales.

That’s how they discovered that the initial surge came in March, just as the coronavirus pandemic led to lockdowns and subsequent uncertainty across the country. “Everybody went to the grocery stores first to stock up on food, then they went to the gun stores,” Georgia gun store owner Eric Wallace told CBS MoneyWatch.

April and May saw a slowdown of gun sales, but protests following George Floyd’s death led to another influx of firearm sales. "It's mostly the civil unrest and the talk on the news about defunding the police — people have decided they need to take action to protect themselves, their families and their homes," Wallace said. 

By August, nearly 5 million Americans bought a firearm for the first time, the National Shooting Sports Foundation said.

Despite only being 10 months into the year, the trade association said 17.2 million background checks were completed in 2020 – a whopping 1.5 million increase from the last record set in 2016.

However, firearm sales in the past several years have been down overall, in part due to more companies choosing to stop doing business with the gun industry as a reaction to mass shootings around the country, CBS News reported.