Early next week, background check data for the month of July will be released by the F.B.I.––and it will likely show a continuing surge in gun sales during the pandemic. Here are three things you should know before those numbers are released:
- The surge in gun sales is making Americans care more about gun safety: As gun sales have surged, so has Americans’ support for common-sense gun safety measures. New polling found that the vast majority of Americans believe gun safety measures are even more important now due to the coronavirus pandemic, and––when participants were informed of the spike in gun sales––their support for gun safety laws strengthened even further.
- The pandemic is making the Charleston loophole more deadly: According to an Everytown FOIA, the National Instant Criminal Background Check system (NICS) is overwhelmed due to surging gun sales during the pandemic––leading to a reported likely “increase in gun purchases by people who can’t legally own them.” The FOIA revealed that 53% more checks than normal are taking longer than three days to process. This is significant because it means that more guns are likely being sold to prohibited purchasers due to the Charleston loophole, a gap in federal law that allows gun sales to proceed if a background check hasn’t been completed in three business days.
- The risk of gun violence is extremely high right now: The surge in gun sales and COVID-19 have increased the likelihood of gun-related domestic violence, daily gun violence, unintentional gun violence, and gun suicide across America. The risk of gun suicide is particularly concerning, with data from the Great Depression and the Great Recession suggesting the economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis could lead to a 20 to 30 percent increase in firearm suicides in the U.S. this year, resulting in 20 additional gun suicides per day in 2020.