Firearms sales in New York more than doubled during the month of June compared with last year. FBI data shows a total of 52,252 background checks were conducted for people seeking to buy guns in New York, a figure that represents a 121% spike from June 2019. More than 31,000 of those background checks were for people looking to obtain a rifle. “When the original COVID scare started in the beginning of March and people thought they might get laid off, at that point, we saw a huge surge. We sold out of almost everything we had in the store,” Cliff Pfleger, who owns a gun store on Long Island, told the New York Post. “We had lines continuously, even though we didn’t have things to sell.” “The people who are coming to the store — a lot of them were first-time firearm purchasers, and they obviously did not apply or have a handgun license,” he added. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, 3 million more guns than usual have been purchased, according to a study commissioned by the Brookings Institution. New York City has reported an uptick in violent crime since the summer began, surpassing 400 shootings during the first half of the year for the first time since 2016. Last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a lawsuit seeking to disband the National Rifle Association, alleging a repeated pattern of fraud by the nonprofit organization’s top executives. “The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets,” James said. “The NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse, which is why, today, we seek to dissolve the NRA, because no organization is above the law.” During the early days of the pandemic, the NRA filed a lawsuit against California Gov. Gavin Newsom and local law enforcement over an executive order closing gun shops and ammunition dealers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department of Homeland Security eventually updated a federal guidance deeming firearms or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges part of “essential critical infrastructure workforce” during the pandemic. [full article]