In the U.S., spikes in gun purchases are often driven by fear. But in past years that anxiety has centered on concerns that politicians will pass stricter gun controls. Mass shootings often prompt more gun sales for that reason, as do elections of liberal Democrats.
Many gun buyers now are saying they are motivated by a new destabilizing sense that is pushing even people who had considered themselves anti-gun to buy weapons for the first time — and people who already have them to buy more.
The nation is on track in 2020 to stockpile at record rates, according to groups that track background checks from FBI data. Across the country, Americans bought 15.1 million guns in the seven months this year from March through September, a 91% leap from the same period in 2019, according to seasonally adjusted firearms sales estimates from The Trace, a nonprofit news organization that focuses on gun issues. The FBI has also processed more background checks for gun purchases in just the first nine months of 2020 than it has for any previous full year, FBI data show.
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