Second Highest Month For New Gun Owners
The FBI conducted more background checks for firearms purchases in March — a month in which several prominent mass shootings reignited America’s conversation about gun control — than they have in any month so far this year.
About 4.7 million Americans initiated gun background checks last month — a 36% increase from February, according to the FBI. More than 2 million of those checks were for new gun purchases, according to the National Shooting Sports Federation, the firearms industry trade group that compares FBI background check numbers with actual sales data to determine its sales figures.
The new guns purchased in March make it the second highest month on record for firearms sales, according to NSSF spokesman Mark Oliva, who said the threat of looming gun control legislation was the catalyst for last months sales surge.
NSSF data shows last month’s sales were surpassed only by the estimated 2.3 million guns sold in March 2020.
“It is clear that firearm sales in March were driven by gun control calls from politicians to ban entire classes of firearms and enact onerous gun laws,” Oliva told CNN Business.
This year, an ongoing surge in hate crimes against Asian Americans has also led to an increase in first-time firearms purchases among this demographic group.
“The face of today’s gun owner no longer fits in the neat little box that some would like to put gun ownership into,” Oliva said. “The fact is gun ownership in America looks more like the country than it ever has.”
The House of Representatives passed the pair of gun control bills on March 11. Five days later eight people were killed in Atlanta, including six Asian women, in a series of shootings at spas. A week after that, 10 people, including a local police officer, were shot dead in a Boulder, Colorado grocery store. Biden urged the Senate to pass gun control legislation in the aftermath of both shootings.
There have been at least 20 mass shootings in the three weeks since the Atlanta attack.
Firearm sales fell slightly in February after a January surge, which had been fueled in part by the Capitol Hill insurrection. January and March are the only two months in which FBI gun background checks surpassed 4 million since records were first kept in 1998.