Virginia gun sales near 30-year high as demonstrators descend on Richmond

December 2019 marked a big year-over-year increase too

Virginia's monthly gun sales jumped in December and nearly surpassed the highest number of transactions recorded in the last 30 years, according to preliminary data, as gun-rights activists rally at the state capital.

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Estimated firearm sales added up to 73,849 last month, according to WHSV. That's almost as many sales as in 2012 when sales hit 75,120, the highest level seen since the data was first collected in 1990, according to The Associated Press.

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December's sales total was also a 47 percent increase over December 2018.

Kem Regik of Virginia stands on the sidewalk before a pro-gun rally, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Thousands of gun-rights activists are rallying in the state capital of Richmond on Monday, and many of them say they're worried by the Democrat-controlled state government passing tighter gun control laws.

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"[Customers say] I'm only getting this because the governor says I can't have it, so I'm coming to get it. That happens frequently, so yes they're very vocal about it," gun shop owner Matt Hill told WHSV. "We've had people buy multiple guns, again, because they're worried they're not going to be able to get them in the future."

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Gov. Ralph Northam declared a temporary state of emergency days ahead of Monday's rally, banning all weapons, including guns, from the event on Capitol Square. Militia groups and white supremacists were among those expected to mix with gun-rights activists, raising fears the state could again see the type of violence that exploded in Charlottesville in 2017.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.