The numbers don’t lie: More Americans will be packing heat than ever, according to FBI background check information.

And those first-time gun owners can’t be stereotyped; they’re from different backgrounds, races and political affiliations and they’re lifting gun sales to record highs.

A story from NPR reports statistics from FBI data on background checks, which are required by the federal government before a licensed firearms retailer can sell a gun:

  • Six of the top 10 days – ever — for instant background checks were last month.
  • The week of March 15-21 was the top week for FBI background checks since 1998, completing 1,218,002 total firearms checks.
  • In January, more than 4 million background checks were processed, compared with the previous January’s 2.7 million. 
  • In February, 3.4 million checks were reported; in February 2020, 2.8 million were completed.
  • In March, 4.7 million checks, up from 3.7 million checks in March 2020.

Speculation points to the rise in mass shootings as the country emerges from the year-long pandemic. The week of March 15-21 occurred in the days following the shootings at three Atlanta-area spas.

Fears of Congress passing new gun control legislation also has played a part, according to NPR’s story, citing industry insiders.

Those factors are nothing new, according to James Densley of The Violence Project, quoted in the NPR story.

“We see this trend often. Whenever high-profile mass shootings occur, people begin stockpiling weapons out of fear that the government will restrict gun rights,” said Densley, co-founder of the nonprofit, nonpartisan research center that tracks public mass shootings in the U.S. 

“It’s a reactionary response.”

Most often, the first-timers are purchasing a semiautomatic handgun, outpacing the second-most-purchased firearm, shotguns, by 2 to 1, according to National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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