The Wall Street Journal: Gun background checks hit new record in March, triggered by coronavirus fears

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The number of gun background checks hit an all-time high in March as panicked Americans rushed to buy firearms during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation performed an estimated 2.375 million background checks for gun sales, the record for a single month since the modern background check system was instituted in 1998, according to a new analysis. Last March, the FBI performed 1.3 million.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the all-time high for background checks in a single month was 2.237 million in December of 2012, when President Barack Obama called for tighter restrictions on guns after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

Owners of gun stores across the country said they have seen an increase in first-time shoppers interested in handguns and shotguns for self-defense as stay-at-home orders and shortages of food and other supplies have sparked fears of a societal breakdown related to the coronavirus pandemic. The analysis was performed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms industry trade group, and excludes background checks for concealed weapons and others not related to gun purchases.

An expanded version of this report appears at

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