Protests, elections, COVID-19–these are some of the factors experts say are leading to the rise of gun sales this year. “There’s just so much happening right now to make people feel uncertain, and I think that’s the one thing that might explain gun sales,” said Trent Steidley, a sociologist and Assistant Professor at the University of Denver. Steidley focuses on topics like firearms and society. “First, it was COVID to think about. OK, people are probably feeling unsure about a lot of things, and we know uncertainty kind of correlates with gun sales. It can go with things like a recession, it can go with things like unemployment,” he explained. “What we’ve seen now is about four months of pretty heavy gun sales.” A firearm industry survey conducted by the NSSF showed handguns outpaced shotguns 2 to 1 in sales among first-time gun buyers, following a larger, rising trend Steidley has been watching.
“Before 2012, 2013, long guns, shotguns, rifles, consistently outpaced handguns. Slowly over time, that ratio changed though,” he said. FBI firearm background check data appears to coincide with two major events. The top two highest weeks for checks since 1998 were March 16 through March 22 of this year with 1,197,788 checks, and June 1 through June 7 with 1,004,798 checks. For reference, March 13 was the day President Donald Trump announced the national emergency for coronavirus and May 25 was the day of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. “It’s human nature. People feel threatened in some way, either they feel their rights might be threatened,” Sheriff Justin Smith in Larimer County, Colorado said. “You can’t go on the internet or watch TV and pick up the news and not see some very concerning stories on spikes in violence around the country.” Smith said his department has seen an increase in those applying for concealed handgun permits. “The numbers are certainly on the increase. We just can’t say because a lot of folks are stuck waiting. We’re clear into September on appointments right now, but I definitely get that sense those numbers are up,” he said. [full article]