Gun Sales in U.S. Set New Records in January, Fresh Off Huge Sales In 2020

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Americans are legally buying more guns than they ever have before. A huge surge in gun sales in 2020 has only ratcheted up more in the new year. Americans bought over 4 million guns in January, shattering the record for purchases in a single month. The trend of white-hot demand for guns and ammunition shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.


USA Today reported that gun sales surged in January by 60%, setting an all-time monthly record of 4,137,480. The FBI has tracked gun sales since 1998 by keeping tabs on the number of background check applications they receive through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

Gun Sales Spike in 2020, Driven by New Purchases by Black Men and Women

According to USA Today

The rise is part of a trend. Gun sales in the United States rose 40% last year to 39,695,315. The figure also represents the high-water mark in gun sales since the current record-keeping system went into effect. Increases by state in January varied substantially, as has been the case for years.

… and …

Who bought these guns? CBS News pointed out that over 5 million people were first-time gun buyers last year. CNN reported a sharp rise in sales to Black Americans and women. “Sales to women are also up 40% through September when compared with the same period last year,” the news network pointed out.

The report speculates that growing civil unrest, nightly riots in major American cities throughout 2020, and anxiety over COVID-19 may all have contributed to the skyrocketing numbers. In the first year the FBI published the NICS numbers, 1999, they reported 9,138,123 sales. Legal gun purchases have grown tremendously over the past two decades.

Even with this long-term trend, the numbers in 2020 and 2021 have been eye-popping. Illinois led the way with over one million gun sales, representing 24% of the national total for January, despite having only 4% of the total American population. Kentucky also had over 400,000 legal gun purchases, for 10% of the January total, despite only having 1.3% of the US population.


Oregon has seen an increase as well. According to The Oregonian,

In 2020, Oregon sold more than 516,000 guns and performed background checks for those sales.

According to the FBI data, there was a 44% increase in firearm background checks in Oregon from 2019 to 2020 and an 86.9% increase from 2015 to 2020.

They interviewed Scott Wyke of Hammer Down Firearms in Bend, Oregon, who said:

“All the riots started it,” Wyke said. “Now it’s the Democrats saying they’re going to take our guns away and people are purchasing now. Ammunition is in short supply now.”

Combined with demand are ammunition plant shutdowns or slowdowns caused by efforts to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“Sales have been higher than I expected and it’s mostly coming from first-time buyers,” he said.

In Oregon and across the nation, the local press has cast a jaundiced eye toward those citizens who see the civil unrest in Portland and have purchased guns for the first time. Repeating ad nauseum the line, “mostly peaceful protests,” they still refuse to report the scope of the violence and destruction that has caused folks to take stock of their personal security and make adjustments, many for the first time in their adult lives.

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Oregon has had a significant backlog in the background checks it runs through NICS via the state police. A bill in the legislature would allow the state police to deny a firearms transfer request (purchase) essentially forever, among many other gun-grabbing bills. The supermajorities of Democrats in the House and Senate can probably pass whatever they want. Knowing that, many Oregonians have rushed out to buy guns and ammunition while they still can.


With a Biden/Harris administration promising to pass federal gun legislation as well, it’s no wonder sales have skyrocketed.

Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available at Jeff hosts a podcast at You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff, and on Gab at @RealJeffReynolds.

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