“At the end of the day, the real problem isn’t that the NICS wasn’t robust enough to handle the surge.
No, the problem was that millions of Americans decided to buy guns. They recognized that it was on them to protect themselves and now they wanted the means to do so.”
Not too long before the entire nation shut down due to COVID-19, gun stores started seeing a surge in sales. Many people who had never considered buying a gun in the first place decided maybe they should rethink it. Some were concerned about crime increasing due to the virus. Still others, Asian-Americans, were concerned ignorant morons would blame them for the disease. Still others had different concerns.
Regardless, gun sales soared and have been consistently high ever since.
Now, we know that many of these gun buyers went to gun stores, which means they’re required to undergo a background check and have any required permits before buying.
For some, that’s not enough. The increase in gun sales is somehow evidence that our gun laws are too lax.
Almost immediately after governors began to issue orders in early March directing nonessential businesses to close and individuals to stay at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, news stories began to emerge of increased traffic at gun stores. One photo of a line of buyers outside of a California gun shop is likely to become one of the most recognizable images from this moment in modern American history. Anecdotes emerged of individuals who had never considered buying guns before rushing to gun stores to make their first purchase, motivated by the fear and uncertainty of this unprecedented moment. Since this early reporting, data have confirmed a dramatic increase in the number of guns purchased during the pandemic. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the federal agency responsible for conducting background checks for gun sales, revealed that nearly 2 million guns were sold in March—the second highest monthly number since these data have been tracked. April gun sales were nearly as high, with an estimated 1.6 million guns sold—a 71 percent increase over April 2019. The trend in gun sales continued in May and June; June saw the biggest increase yet, with an estimated 2.3 million guns sold.
Just as the coronavirus pandemic has exposed gaps within the U.S. health care and economic systems, the surge in gun sales during this period brings to the forefront weaknesses in the current laws and systems governing the sale and ownership of firearms and ammunition. Far too many gun sales are allowed to proceed without background checks, and gun owners face minimal legal requirements to ensure that guns are handled and stored safely. These gaps in the law create risks for all U.S. communities vulnerable to gun violence, and both federal and state policymakers should take this opportunity to strengthen these laws to help reduce gun violence.