December was the 12th month in a row of record-breaking National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background checks.
FBI figures showed 3,937,066 NICS checks were made in December, far surpassing the month’s previous record of 3,314,594 from December 2015.
Every month in 2020 broke each month’s previously held record.
Background checks do not necessarily match the number of guns sold, but the National Shooting Sports Foundation estimated that almost 7.7 million people purchased a gun for the first time this year.
The NSSF’s sales estimate doesn’t even consider sales in 25 states where concealed carry permit holders can bypass a NICS background check, suggesting the actual number of firearms sales could be much higher than projected.
High demand and low supply have also caused the cost of both guns and ammunition to skyrocket as stores nationwide face shortages, WINK-TV reported.
“It seems like anywhere you go if you want to buy any kind of ammo at all it’s really tough to come by,” said Corey Rugg, owner of Gulf Coast Clay’s Gun Club in Ft Meyers, Florida.
Rugg told WINK-TV that he believes the shortage is a result of both panic-buying in the midst of the pandemic and the contentious presidential election between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
“Coronavirus shut down a lot of the manufacturers which supplied all the ammo and now all their inventory is gone and with all the panic buying everybody’s just starting to try and catch back up,” he said.
Phoenix gun store owner Veerachart Murphy said there has been a “huge uptick in first-time buyers” that he believes was caused by the election, COVID, shutdowns and riots, KOLD reported.
“It was enough to get them off the couch and come in and actually make their first purchase,” Murphy said.
For Murphy, January and February had the biggest spike of the year with a 400 percent increase in sales. One year later, Murphy expects sales to stay high or even doubling as Americans anticipate President-elect Joe Biden’s swearing in as president on January 20.
“I think this is going to be it for the foreseeable future with Biden in office. We saw kind of the same thing with Obama in office,” said Murphy, who posted then-President Barack Obama’s picture in his store as Employee of the Month. “That should give you kind of an idea of, of how everybody reacts to … a Democratic-controlled presidency.”