Gun sales have reached record heights in the past three months, with more than 6 million guns sold in the United States since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
That 6 million includes 1.7 million sold in May — typically a slower spring month — which is an all-time record for the month and an 80% increase from May 2019. Gun sales at the end of the month may have been boosted by the widespread riots and looting in major cities in response to the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.
Many of the purchasers are first-timers, and many of those first-timers are women purchasing handguns for personal protection. From the Free Beacon:
The record-setting sales pace has been driven in large part by new gun owners, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry's trade group.
"Our recent survey of firearm retailers shows us that 40 percent of these gun buyers are buying a firearm for the first time," Mark Oliva, a spokesman for the group, said in a statement. "Of those first-time gun owners, 40 percent are women and these buyers are overwhelmingly purchasing handguns for personal protection."
The COVID-19 pandemic also appears to have driven gun sales, as people feared that government-imposed lockdowns might lead to unrest, and worries about gun-buying restrictions may have led some to stock up.
"People are nervous that there's a certain amount of civil disorder that might come if huge numbers of people are sick and a huge number of institutions are not operating normally," said Timothy Lytton, a law professor at Georgia State University with expertise in the gun industry, according to the New York Times. "They may have an anxiety about protecting themselves if the organs of state are starting to erode."