Spike in Background Checks Suggest Increase in Michigan Gun Sales, Following National Trends

by Scott McClallen


As consumers rushed to buy toilet paper in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, data suggests Michiganders also rushed to buy guns.

That’s according to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported the number of firearm background checks completed this year in Michigan more than doubled from February to March from 47,557 to 107,492.

March 2020 NICS in Michigan increased 210.8 percent over March 2019, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).

Although the NICS tracks the number of background checks processed and not firearms sold, the spike suggests people are buying more firearms.

Double Action Indoor Shooting Center & Gun Shop in Madison Heights’ website says: “Due to Extremely High Sales Volume – Online Ordering Has Been Temporarily Suspended. Please Visit Our Physical Store. Thank You!”

The same holds across the nation, NSSF says. Over 2.2 million people might have purchased firearms last month, topping 20-year records for March.

March 20, 2020, shattered the all-time, one-day background check record at 210,308.

March 2020 seized five of the top 10 days for the most background checks conducted, and the highest week on record: more than 1.197 million background checks from March 16 through 22.

That’s over 244,000 more background checks in one week than the second-highest week, which occurred in December 2012 when Washington legislators and President Barack Obama publicly discussed gun restrictions after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting (SAAF) estimated March 2020 U.S. firearm sales at 2.5 million units, an 85.3 percent increase from March 2019.

“As anticipated by general media and within-industry reports, firearm unit sales boomed in March 2020 largely due to the covid-19 crisis,” SAAF Chief Economist Jurgen Brauer said in a press release.

“Much of the industry’s inventory will have been depleted, so that we anticipate that weapons and ammunition prices increased as well,” Brauer continued.

“The spurt in firearms sales in March 2020 was particularly notable for its handgun component: The ratio of handguns to long-guns sold now stands at a record 1.84, the highest record since the introduction of the NICS checks in late 1998,” Brauer said.

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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org.




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