There were nearly 4.7 million gun background checks run through the FBI’s national instant check system in March — the highest-ever monthly total in the more than 20 years since the system was set up.
The 4.69 million checks is a 25% increase from a then-record 3.69 million checks in March 2020, when there was a run on firearms as the scope of the coronavirus pandemic was becoming clearer.
The checks aren’t a one-to-one correlation to gun sales, but are used as a general approximation for the health of the market.
Larry Hyatt, owner of Hyatt Guns in North Carolina, said he saw a bit of a drop-off in February and part of March after what had been a steady clip of demand over the last year.
“But then they started talking about the gun control bills coming in and we saw a quick increase,” he said.
Mr. Hyatt suggested that some customers have been using their stimulus checks from the most recent round of coronavirus relief to buy guns.
“And then the government sent all the money to buy the guns, so we’ve had a huge surge for the last two weeks,” he said. “When the stimulus money started hitting and they started talking about making it more difficult to buy a firearm, we definitely saw a big increase in our internet and in-store sales.”
The Democratic-led House passed legislation last month to tighten gun-purchase background checks, though the bills are unlikely to secure the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster in the 50-50 split Senate.
President Biden has talked about taking executive action on his own on guns, including new regulations on firearms built from 3D-printed parts.
Democrats have re-upped their calls for action on guns after the recent mass shootings in Colorado and Georgia that left 18 people dead.