The brisk pace of firearm sales has continues into 2021, despite the fact two of the alleged catalysts no longer provide the overwhelming motivation they initially did: Aggressive vaccination efforts are addressing COVID-19 concerns and social unrest is no longer as widespread or frequent.
The third oft-cited factor, the Presidential election, is even in the rearview mirror. The facts make Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting (SAAF) estimate that U.S. firearm sales in April came in at slightly more than 1.8 million, an increase compared to last year, unexpected news.
“[T]he April 2021 number of just over 1.8 million firearms sold is large, in fact it is the largest April figure on record,” said SAAF Chief Economist Jurgen Brauer. “While the year-over-year percentage increase of 2.1 percent is relatively modest, it nonetheless represents growth on top of last year’s covid-19 panic-driven sales boom.”
The largest spike in gun sales last year came in March, with a total of 2.6 million, just as concern over the pandemic and social unrest spread. The record proved too much to eclipse in 2021, when 2.2 million firearms were sold during the month.
Despite that short-lived lull, the total number of purchases for the first quarter of this year set a new highwater mark. “If this rate of sales were to be sustained throughout 2021, last year’s record sales of 22.8 million would be broken,” Brauer said at the time.
Last month’s figures also reflected a shift in buyer preferences. “Handgun sales declined in April 2021 relative to the same month last year, so that long-gun sales drove this April’s overall increase,” according to Brauer’s findings.
Firearm sales are estimated by subtracting the growing number of administrative uses of the NICS system, including concealed carry permit applications and renewals, from the FBI’s total reported volume of records processed. Purchases in those regions of the country where valid carry permit holders are not required to undergo the redundant check are not reflected, as well as private transfers in many areas.