In the United States, we’ve hoarded a lot of surprising things over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, especially in the beginning. Toilet paper. Beef. Puzzles.
And here in Ohio, we apparently bought up all the guns.
According to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System
(NICS), 976,751 firearm background checks were performed in Ohio in 2020. That’s a huge jump over the 638,495 checks performed in 2019.
Because of varying firearms laws and procedures among states, online sales, sales at gun shows, and illegal sales or trades, it’s impossible to tell precisely how many guns are purchased or sold in the United States. But background checks typically (though not always) are performed before a person purchases a firearm, and those figures widely are used to estimate (or underestimate) purchases.
Ohio wasn’t alone in its surge in firearms sales, as neighboring states Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia all increasedduring the last year. According to FBI data, Michigan had 1,068,511 background checks in 2020, a huge leap from the 492,171 checks in 2019. Pennsylvania had 1,452,921 last year, an increase over the 987,886 checks in 2019. And West Virginia checked 265,705 individuals in 2020, up from 206,196 the previous year.
Background checks in Kentucky actually went down, from 4,120,892 in 2019 to 3,330,462 in 2020.
Across the nation, there were 39,695,315 total firearm background checks in 2020. That was about 11 million more than in 2019, which had 28,369,750 checks. The national number has increased each year since 2017.
The FBI’s data also shows that nationally, firearms buyers were especially active as local and state COVID-19 regulations were put into place during the spring of 2020. March 19, 20 and 21 of last year all are among the 10 most active days for background checks since Nov. 30, 1998.
2020 also holds six spots on the FBI’s list of most active weeks since Nov. 30, 1998. Spikes in activity generally corresponded to the beginning of the pandemic, the summer protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police, and the presidential election and winter holidays.
But firearm buyers already are trying to outdo themselves in 2021. Three of January’s weeks already are on the FBI’s list of busiest weeks since 1998.
Ohio registered 98,651 firearm background checks for January of this year. February data is not yet available.