Up FrontThree million much more guns: The feather 2020 spike in firearm salesPhillip Levine and also Robin McKnightMonday, July 13, 2020
When Americans are concerned around their personal security, lock buy firearms. Such involves have to be rampant due to the fact that March, initially as result of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and also then the social unrest in June that followed George Floyd’s killing. Our estimates indicate that almost three million an ext firearms have actually been sold due to the fact that March than would have ordinarily been sold during these months. Half of that increase occurred in June alone. This pattern highlights vital potential repercussion that may an outcome from this tumultuous period: much more firearms in the hand of personal citizens.

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Phillip Levine

Nonresident other - financial Studies, Future the the Middle class Initiative


Robin McKnight

Professor of economics - Wellesley College

Spikes in total sales end a decade

Past spikes in firearms sales have arisen when people worried about feasible restrictions (see number below). Adhering to President Obama’s calls come impose modest constraints on firearm sales in response to the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting and the san Bernardino terrorist attack, sales jumped by 3 million and also 1.6 million, respectively, past the expected level over the couple of months that elevated sales. Protests demanding gun control legislation led by students in Parkland, Florida, the website of the many recent high-profile institution shooting, led to one more spike in sales the 700,000.


The data presented right here are indigenous background checks performed by the FBI before a firearm is offered by a licensed dealer. These data do not perfectly measure firearm sales, but they room highly correlated with sales and are commonly used by researchers. In past work, we have actually used these data to show that the spike in firearm sales adhering to the Sandy Hook college shooting caused a spike in accidental firearm deaths, specifically among children.

The 2020 spike, however, is less about concerns about access to firearms, than an individual safety. In March, pertains to about personal safety arose from both a deadly new virus and also an economy in totally free fall. By June, concerns around the virus and also the economic climate remained, and also were compounded by new evidence of gyeongju injustice in policing, widespread protests, and also discussions of defunding the police.

Emergency = total sales

Daily data allows us to far better identify the resources of fears about personal safety. Together the following figure shows, the average day-to-day level of firearm sales in January and also February to be 92,000. Within that period, daily sales varied within the range of 80,000 come 100,000 every day.


On march 13, president Trump approve a proclamation advertising a nationwide emergency concerning the COVID-19 outbreak. Over the following 12 work (including that day), firearm sales surged, jumping to end 120,000 per day, and peaking in ~ 176,000 on in march 16. End 700,000 extr firearms were offered in March.

The geographical pattern in the added sales is not correlated with COVID-19 fatality rates no one with increases in joblessness rates. This suggests that the spike in firearm sales resulted from a basic sense of national apprehension, rather than a solution to differential degradation in regional conditions. End the next two months, together the country cleared up into its new environment and even moved right into a duration of booked re-openings, firearm sales stabilized, if perhaps at a slightly greater level than previously in the year (seasonal sport is modest during this period of the year).

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Protests = pistol sales

Then George Floyd was eliminated on might 25, which began a chain of occasions leading come a Minneapolis police terminal being shed down on may 28. Protests then spread out nationwide, consisting of to Lafayette Square in Washington, DC, whereby the federal federal government forcibly eliminated protesters, reportedly using chemical agents and rubber bullets, on June 1. Additional protests, including clashes through police, continued for numerous days.