I-Team: Gun sales hit historic highs across the country

I-Team

EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) – 2020 is a year unlike any other, and firearms experts say this could be the exact reason why gun sales have hit historic highs.

Kendall Knapik, the owner of Pioneer Valley Arms in East Longmeadow, told the 22News I-Team this year has been the busiest she has ever experienced.

“I’ve been in the industry for about 10 years now, and this is probably the craziest we’ve ever seen it,” Knapik explained. “It’s mostly shotguns, home-defense shotguns. Those were the first to sell out. Then, people moved to handguns once the shotgun manufacturers couldn’t keep up with the demand.”

The demand for firearms isn’t just high in western Massachusetts, it’s national.

“We have already surpassed all of the guns sold last year and we are well on our way to surpassing our record of 2016,” Mark Oliva of the National Shooting Sports Foundation said.

He explained that 40 percent of people buying guns this year are first-time gun owners. That equals more than five million people with the strongest growth coming from women and black men.

Oliva told the I-Team that gun sales usually increase during election years, but it is even more than usual this year.

Big increases began in March when President Trump declared a National Emergency because of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Google search trends, searches for the term “gun sales” peaked in the Springfield area the week of March 15-21.

In late May, George Floyd was killed in police custody. Searches for “gun sales” on Google also peaked again right after this happened and protests began.

“Which sparked up the protests, which very quickly morphed into rioting and looting, and turned into calls to defund police,” Oliva said.

Jurgen Brauer of Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting told the I-Team that this caused many Americans to question their safety and buy guns to protect themselves if needed.

“Security fears became very prominent,” Brauer explained. “People saying either, if we need security the police may not come or if they do come, we may not be treated impartially.”

As the election inches closer, the most recent data shows that here in Massachusetts gun sales increased by 83 percent from September 2019 to September 2020.

Springfield firearms manufacturer Smith and Wesson reported its revenue more than doubled last quarter compared to a year ago.

LTC, FID Applications

The 22News I-Team acquired data on how many people are applying for and being granted License to Carries and Firearms Identification Cards this year compared to last year.

Greenfield:
05/27/2019 – 07/10/2019
54 Class A Licenses granted; 1 FIDs granted

05/25/2020 – 07/10/20
33 Class A Licenses granted; 1 FID granted

Westfield
05/27/2019 – 07/10/2019
166 License to Carry applications; 6 FID applications

05/25/2020 – 07/10/20
139 License to Carry applications; 10 FID applications

Statewide
5/25/19-7/10/19
15,745 Class A Licenses granted; 528 FIDs granted

05/25/2020 – 07/10/20
7,457 Class A Licenses granted; 121 FIDs granted

Nationwide: FBI background checks completed
August 2019 – 2,207,312
August 2020 – 2,892,115

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