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Gun sales in April spiked by more than 70 percent from the previous year, with the purchase of more than 1.7 million firearms as concerns related to the novel coronavirus continued, recently released statistics show.
An estimated 1,797,910 guns were sold in April 2020 – a 71.3 percent increase from April 2019. March saw an even higher surge in sales, with 2,583,238 firearms sold – or 85.3 percent more than the previous year, according to data released late Monday by Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting.
SAAF data also indicated a surge in handgun over long-gun purchases, a group spokesperson said.
Mark Oliva, a spokesperson for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents gunmakers, said the NSSF had reached similar figures, though slightly lower at 69.1 percent.
In a statement to FOX Business, he said the numbers showed, "the strongest April on record."
"This shows us there is continued appetite among Americans to be able to provide for their own safety during times of uncertainty. These are buyers who have witnessed their governments empty prisons... Police departments are stretched beyond capacity in many cases. Law-abiding Americans recognize this and exercising their right to own a gun and defend themselves and their loved ones."
The New York Post previously reported an increase in the number of people hunting as Americans responded to reports of possible food shortages.
Also announced Monday were the FBI’s firearm background check numbers, which showed 2.9 million checks for last month.
The week of April 13-19 is now among the top 10 highest weeks since the system was tracked in November 1998. During that week in April, the FBI conducted 766,739 checks.
The FBI’s monthly background check figures, while a key barometer of gun sales, also incorporate checks for firearm permits that are required in some states. Each background check also could be for the sale of more than one gun.
As fears over the pandemic began ramping up and states began issuing stay-at-home directives, long lines were seen snaking outside of some gun dealers and shelves inside emptied of ammunition. It's played out amid a debate over whether gun shops should be considered “essential” businesses that should remain open. Fears gun shops would be closed and that economic downturn would lead to high crime and safety concerns have helped fuel the run on firearms.
Oliva previously told FOX Business that during a time of extreme uncertainty, “Americans want to know they can provide for their own safety and the safety of their loved ones.”
“Our rights don’t end during a pandemic,” he said. “In fact, the need for responsible and law-abiding adults to exercise their rights is magnified.”
The pandemic has also inflamed tensions between gun-control supporters and Second Amendment advocates. Pro-gun groups have said the sales of firearms underscore that Americans ardently support the Second Amendment. In contrast, gun control activists have said the gun lobby is fueling fears to increase profits and that more firearms in circulation will lead to increases in gun violence.
Gun sales are likely also propelled by the historic highs that occur during presidential election years as gun owners worry that a new crop of elected officials will lead to gun control measures.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.