ORLANDO SENTINEL July 22, 2020 – Typically, about one in 10 shoppers who buy firearms at The Armories is a first-time gun buyer. These days, it’s closer to half, said Robbie Motes, who owns the chain of Central Florida gun stores. Motes has seen a major spike in sales — and new gun owners — since March, when the coronavirus pandemic erupted. It’s not a local phenomenon: Americans are purchasing guns at record high numbers, with 7.8 million background checks reported nationwide from March through June.
“We had no idea this was going to happen,” Motes said. “Nobody has ever seen a pandemic like this.”
Gun sales often spike during times of political or social upheaval, which makes 2020 the perfect storm: The presidency is on the November ballot, the pandemic has killed hundreds of thousands of people worldwide and sent U.S. jobless rates soaring, and the Minneapolis killing of George Floyd by police sparked mass protests across the country.
In Florida, nearly 184,000 background checks for gun sales and transfers took place in June, more than double the monthly total from last year and more than any other month in 2019 or 2020 so far, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. March, April, May and June all saw decade-high background check totals.
A study from the Brookings Institution found that an extra 3 million firearms were sold between March to June. A large amount of the sales happened following the nationwide protests.
With the election fast approaching, it’s likely the upward trend will continue, Motes said. He said the challenge he and other firearm professionals face is ensuring first-time buyers are properly educated on handling a gun. He said safety device sales have also increased by about 500% in recent months.
Hernan Gonzalez, 42, of St. Cloud never felt the need to purchase a firearm until now. In light of current events, he fears for the safety of his wife and children and plans to buy a gun as a means of self protection.
“It’s the pandemic, it’s the state of affairs politically, so much uncertainty, financial uncertainty with everyone,” Gonzalez said.
His said his biggest concern is someone trying to harm or steal from his family. Amid so much unrest, he wants to be prepared. [full article]