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Everytown Responds to New FBI Data Suggesting Americans Bought 66% More Guns in September than they Did Last Year

October 5, 2020

Continued Surge in Gun Sales Increases Risk of Gun-Related Domestic Violence, Daily Gun Violence, Unintentional Shootings, and Gun Suicide

Surge in Gun Sales is Overwhelming the Background Check System, Making the Charleston Loophole Even Deadlier

When Americans Learn About Surge of Gun Sales, Their Support for Gun Safety Laws Increases

NEW YORK — Today, Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action, a part of Everytown, responded to new data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which found that 2.9 million background checks were conducted in September 2020 –– 31 percent more than in September 2019. That translates to an estimated 1.7 million guns sold, an increase of 66 percent over last September. 

This surge in gun sales is overwhelming our background check system: according to an Everytown FOIA from last month, NICS is falling behind due to surging gun sales during the pandemic –– leading to likely thousands of guns being sold to people who can’t legally own them. The FOIA revealed that between March and July, 294,683 gun sales could have proceeded without a background check being finished –– which is more than all of 2019 –– and 54% 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. 

“It’s deeply alarming that our background check system is being overwhelmed at the same time President Trump is telling right wing extremists to ‘stand back and stand by,’” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Trump’s reckless rhetoric has a long history of inspiring hate groups, and by failing to fix our nation’s background check system, he may now be helping those same groups get armed.”

“Our background check system is completely overwhelmed and, as a result, thousands of guns are likely being sold to people who shouldn’t have them ––and that could include the white supremacists and extremists who want to disrupt the election,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “President Trump and Senator McConnell have had years to address this problem by closing the Charleston loophole. Instead, they decided it’s more politically expedient to protect the status quo than the American people. Make no mistake: we will make them pay for that on election day.”

The surge in gun sales has sustained throughout the pandemic: Between March and September 2020, it’s estimated that 13.5 million guns have been sold –– 90% more than the number of estimated guns sold over the same period last year.

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. 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 risk of gun violence is high right now: There is an increased likelihood of gun-related domestic violence, daily gun violence, unintentional gun violence, and gun suicide right now across America. 

The surge in gun sales is elevating the risk of gun suicide in particular: The risk of gun suicide is particularly high right now across America, due to COVID-19 and the surge in gun sales. An Everytown analysis of data from the Great Depression and the Great Recession suggest 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. This is particularly concerning for young people: a CDC report found that 1 in 4 young people have “seriously considered suicide” during the pandemic –– a tragic and dangerous trend at a time when the firearm suicide rate has already increased 56% for young people between the ages of 10 to 24 years old over the last decade.

The full list of recommendations on how to report on suicide is here

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24/7. 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

You may also contact the Crisis Text Line, which provides trained crisis counseling services over text 24/7. Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the US crisistextline.orgcFree and confidential mental health, suicide prevention, and crisis intervention services and resources are also available to people in-need of help, loved ones of those in-need, and frontline workers through the Pandemic Crisis Services Response Coalition at

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