The FBI reported a 41% surge in background checks on individuals attempting to buy firearms in the United States in the past month, as the country faces a growing coronavirus epidemic.
According to newly released data from the FBI, 3.7 million gun purchase background checks were made in the month of March alone.
It is the most checks conducted in a single month since the FBI’s National Instant Background Check (NICS) system was launched in 1998.
Which states have the most checks? By far, the state leading in federal firearm background checks in March was Illinois -- with over half a million checks conducted -- followed by Texas, Kentucky, Florida, and California.
Under US law, federally licensed gun dealers must run checks on every buyer, whether a purchase is made in a store or at a gun show.
“The rise in gun and ammunition sales during this crisis is understandable as the fear of the unknown can drive purchasing far off their norms,” said Jonathan Wackrow, CNN Law Enforcement Analyst and former special agent with the US Secret Service.
“Research has shown that during a crisis, if individuals let fear, anxiety, and confusion spread, they will most likely begin to feel helpless. For many, the purchase of a weapon resolves that sense of helplessness.”