That’s a 65% increase compared with 2019, when 13.9 million guns were sold, according to Small Arms Analytics.
Since there is no national gun registry, firearms industry publications and background checks are the best sources for gauging sales.
FBI background checks on gun buyers increased all year, but the biggest jumps — March, June, July and December — overlapped with periods of political and social unrest. Background checks don’t correlate directly to the number of guns sold.
The requests for background checks slowed to 3.4 million in February, but that’s still up 23% from February 2020.
There were also striking increases at the state level:
–A record number of Georgia residents got firearm background checks in 2020:
904,035, up nearly 68% from the year before.
–In Michigan, January background checks increased 155% from the previous January.
–New Jersey saw a January over January increase of 240%.
‘It just seems like we live in chaos’
At gun stores and gun ranges business is booming.
Atlanta resident Syra Arzu, 38, wanted to buy a Glock pistol. But the store was completely sold out, so she settled on a Smith & Wesson.
The single mother of three young children says she never felt the need for a gun, until now.
“It just seems like we live in chaos and this is giving me some kind of control over that chaos,” Arzu said.
Once Arzu got hers, her friend was convinced to purchase one of her own. And another friend who accompanied Arzu to the gun store picked up his new gun last week.
“So you’re welcome, gun industry,” Arzu said.
Ken Baye, owner of Stoddard’s Range and Guns in Atlanta, said he’s seeing a different kind of customer these days: new shooters.
“We see a lot of women come in, a lot of couples, people with children,” he said. “We’re really seeing pretty much every walk of life.”
“That was something that had people, regardless of color, regardless of your social background, your economic status, you said to yourself, ‘OK if we don’t have food next week, what are we going to do to protect ourselves and our families?'”
NAAGA is seeing steady growth of about 800 to 1,000 new members a month, Smith said.
Other recent gun sales increases
“If we look at the global picture, we know that we have much more higher rates of gun ownership in the US than in other countries, and we also know that we have even higher rates of violence and unintentional injuries due to gun ownership,” Evans said.
Evans says if people want to arm themselves, these days the best way would be to wear a mask, wash your hands and get a vaccine.
Arzu already follows that advice, but still feels better with a gun in her home, which she keeps locked in a safe.
“It’s like a security blanket,” she said.
CNN’s Chauncey Alcorn contributed to this report.