As the election neared and the pandemic remained, Americans moved to buy—or stockpile—firearms in record numbers. The FBI conducted more than 1.7 million background checks for gun purchases last month, and Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting estimated that guns sales jumped 65% from October 2019, to 1.9 million. The National Shooting Sports Foundation said every month since March has had the highest gun sales for that month ever recorded, the Hill reports. Already, 2020 has set the annual record for sales, at an estimated 18.6 million. The FBI has never run as many firearms background checks in a year as it has in 2020, per CNN. The checks are required whenever someone wants to sell or transfer firearms or accessories.
Gun sales often climb in tense times, such as after mass killings. That's because "Americans know their safety is ultimately in their own hands," an NRA spokesman said. The head of Guns Down America finds the proliferation of weapons worrisome, especially in light of the possibility of confrontations related to election outcomes. "The research tells us that where there are more guns there are more gun deaths," he said. "That is true for suicides, homicides, unintentional shootings, police shootings, etc." BuzzFeed notes the recent surge in estimated monthly sales is far greater than those seen after events like 9/11, Barack Obama's election, and the Sandy Hook massacre. (One chain's limits on gun sales cost it.)