By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
Gun sales and accompanying FBI background checks spiked last month as the nation weathered the coronavirus and riots broke out in major cities over the death of George Floyd.
Already this year, the FBI has recorded 15 million background checks, putting the country on pace to break all previous records of new gun purchases.
More than three million firearms background checks were conducted in May, the third-highest numbers since the federal firearms background system was established 22 years ago.
In the month of March, more than 3.7 million people had background investigations conducted. Many believe those gun sales are connected to current events.
“Everybody is getting scared and they want to protect themselves. A lot of first time gun buyers,” said Scott Wyke, owner of Hammer Down Firearms on northeast Butler Market Road in Bend.
Wyke says sales at his gun store have increased nearly 300% in the past two months.
He says all types of firearms are selling: handguns, long guns, shotguns.
“We did run really low at one time. We had about one hundred fifty 9mm handguns at one point. We got down to 12.”
“What are you going to do next? I think training is always the right answer,” said local outdoor expert Gary Lewis.
Lewis encourages people who purchase their first firearm to get formal training on how to safely handle and use the gun.
“I think everybody that uses a gun should commit to training at least once a year.”
An interesting subset of the current national trend of increasing gun sales are the number of applications for concealed handgun licenses: those numbers plummeted here in Deschutes County primarily due to closure of the sheriff’s office to walk-in traffic.
However, the number of people who are renewing their existing concealed handgun licenses has remained steady or crept slightly up.