Guns sales in the U.S. have seen a sharp spike since March, according to reports and a new study published by the Brookings Institution. The study found nearly 3 million guns had been purchased since March due to both the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. and civil unrest that erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
The study said at the core the 2020 sales spike is a concern about “personal safety.”
“In March, concerns about personal safety arose from both a deadly new virus and an economy in free fall,” the study said. “By June, concerns about the virus and the economy remained, and were compounded by new evidence of racial injustice in policing, widespread protests, and discussions of defunding the police.”
The first spike is seen following President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the wake of this, gun sales jumped with an average of over 120,000 firearms sold daily. By the end of the month, over 700,000 firearms had been sold across the U.S.
This same sense of concern arose in June after the initial Black Lives Matter protests across the U.S. intensified. The peak of sales was on June 2 and June 3, both of which saw over 150,000 firearms sold. While protests continued and became less violent, firearm sales remained high for the rest of the month.
Background checks also jumped 136% in June and around 40% of all purchases were made by first-time buyers between March and June, according to the firearms trade group National Shooting Sports Foundation.
In total, over 3.9 million firearms were sold during June.
Some state and local officials have also called into question the wisdom of allowing gun shops to remain open as an “essential business.”
“When we shut down all but necessary businesses, the states kept gun shops open,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney told the Wall Street Journal. “Why is that an essential business? And we had people lined up outside.”
Philadelphia is one of several cities struggling to contain a recent surge in violence, along with New York City and Milwaukee.