Florida gun background checks reach record highs amid pandemic, social unrest

In Florida, the FBI conducted more than 1.5 million background checks for gun sales in 2020.

It looks like Florida residents loaded up on a record number of guns in 2020, a year marred by the coronavirus pandemic and social unrest.

From January through October, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) conducted 1,562,269 background checks for gun sales, more than any other single full year on record.

The number of FBI background requests in 2020—which provides the best estimate of gun sales—beat 2019’s count (1,195,539) by 366,730.

The first surge this year came in March, when COVID-19 prompted a state lockdown. The FBI received 192,234 background checks in March, compared to 116,238 the previous month. Background checks exceeded 110,000 every month in 2020.

The monthly background checks dipped in April and May before surging to 210,415 in June, when protests broke out nationwide over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. In July, the NICS did 190,975 background checks.

This year's background checks have already shattered the previous record of 1,435,340, set in 2016. For the last two month of 1998, when the NICS started recording data, the number of checks was 32,341.

A version of this post first appeared in our sibling newspaper Detroit Metro Times.

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