Gun sales in America jumped from the point the COVID-19 pandemic began until well into 2021. Several days and weeks in that period set all-time records. Total sales were 28,369,750 in 2019 and 39,659315 in 2020. The numbers come from the FBI’s NICS Firearms Check, which is often used as a proxy for sales.
Recently, gun sales have collapsed, measured both month by month and year over year. The pace of the fall-off accelerated in June. June sales last year were 3,054,726. Last month, they were 2,570,608. Gun sales have been down every month of 2022.
Why have gun sales slowed? It was more evident why they rose for months. The New York Times reported in May 2021, “While gun sales have been climbing for decades — they often spike in election years and after high-profile crimes — Americans have been on an unusual, prolonged buying spree fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, the protests last summer and the fears they both stoked.”
During the period of the increase, the number of first-time gun buyers jumped. Sales also rose among women and minorities. First-time buyers have been about 20% of new gun sales nationwide.
Even with gun sales falling, there are periods when they spike. Most notable of these is when there are mass shootings, as there have been with horrible frequency this year. The theory about why this is true is that gun sales may be curtailed because the government wants to stop these incidents. Many politicians have made sure this has not happened.
The figures for shootings in America in 2022 are indeed awful. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 313 mass shootings this year.
Even the decline in gun sales may not help the gun violence problem. Bloomberg estimates there are 393 million weapons in the hands of gun owners. That is more than one gun for every American.
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