An unprecedented number of gun background checks conducted during firearm sales transactions were carried out by FBI last month. This represented the largest number of checks since the system was established in 1998, Newsweek reported. The FBI processed around 3.7 million requests from official firearm retailers, which was a 33% surge from February and a 13% increase from the previous record, established in December 2015.
According to industry insiders cited by the outlet, the surge in numbers could have been caused by fears of social unrest amid the ongoing coronavirus health crisis in the United States. These concerns have been collaborated by a significant rise in firearms sales reported by gun retailers.
For example, the revenue of the website Ammo.com has reportedly increased 729% in the 39 days ending on 31 March, in comparison to the sales recorded throughout the same period ending in February.
The owner of California-based gun dealer company Burbank Ammo & Guns, David Schwartz, even told Newsweek that the shop’s employees have stopped answering online queries due to soaring demand, as they are already working “seven days a week, 12 hours a day” just to serve the come-and-go customers.
California represents a hot-spot state for the soaring number of background checks, with 72% more requests proceeded by the FBI last month than in February. Previously the outlet reported, citing sources working in the firearm sales industry, that many of the recent buyers have turned out to be “first-time” gun owners.
This comes as the United States hit the threshold of 200,000 coronavirus cases recorded in the country by Johns Hopkins University on 2 April, with more than 5,000 people reported dead as a result of COVID-19 complications.