More Americans rush to buy guns as pandemic, racial unrest grip nation

More and more Americans have been running out to buy guns amid a stifling pandemic and heightened racial tensions in the wake of George Floyd’s death, according to recent data on firearm background checks compiled by the FBI.

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"They're scared," said Jamers Hillin, the owner of Full Armor Firearms in Texas, where gun sales have increased 75% since January, according to Bloomberg News. "They want to protect themselves."

The number of people who completed the required background check to purchase a firearm reached a record high in June, according to a report by Bloomberg, citing the bureau's statistics.

The spike in demand began in March, when the first coronavirus shelter-in-place orders were beginning nationwide.

Investors in the gun manufacturers — Smith & Wesson Brands Inc. and Sturm Ruger & Co. — have seen a substantial rise in stock value.

Smith & Wesson expects sales of $825.2 million, a 20% rise from predictions in early March, according to Bloomberg.

But Remington Arms Co., which faced costly civil judgments after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012, is on the brink of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, The Wall Street Journal reported last week.

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Investment analysts expect the current run on guns to continue strongly due to ongoing protests and the prospect of Democrat Joe Biden winning the November election, which could pave the way to gun control reform, Bloomberg reported.

In another example of spiking sales, Bob’s Gun Shop in Norfolk, Virginia, saw sales triple since mid-March, and an estimated 35% of those buyers were getting a gun  for the first time, according to Bloomberg.

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Gun sales commonly spike during election years, “particularly in the fall as we get closer to the election,” said Peter Keith, an analyst at investment bank Piper Sandler, who spoke to Bloomberg. “I think you’ll probably see continued strong demand around the civil unrest and the defund-the-police theme for July and August.”