TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Background checks conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show a record number of Floridians are purchasing guns this year.
Gun industry insiders say civil unrest and the election have created a perfect storm for increased demand.
More than 1.1 million background checks have been conducted since the start of 2020. With two and a half months left to go in the year, it’s already smashed the previous record set in 2016.
“We’ve seen a unprecedented number of people coming and buying guns,” Charlie Strickland, owner of Talon Tactical Outfitters in Midway, Florida, said.
Strickland said it’s not necessarily typical gun buyers stocking up.
“Huge numbers of minorities and women and those numbers are growing,” he said.
Strickland said he suspects a combination of civil unrest, threats to law enforcement funding and the election are the primary factors for the uptick.
“The increase in concern has caused a lot of people on both sides of the political spectrum; we see a lot of people who are very liberal on a lot of subjects that are in here buying guns to protect themselves,” he said.
State Sen. Dennis Baxley shares the same feelings, particularly on the election issue.
“When you have a candidate that’s up there declaring, ‘I’m going to take your guns,’ you know you better buy some now while you can,” Baxley said, though it’s unclear which candidate he’s referring to.
People aren’t just buying more guns. They’re also paying for training. More than 80,000 Floridians have applied for concealed carry permits since the start of the year.
“Our training classes are booked out for months in advance and people are coming in wanting to learn how to use, not just buy guns, learning how to use the firearms within the laws,” Strickland said. “That’s a good thing for all of us.”
Whether gun purchases continue to rise or fall may rest on the outcome of election. If Biden wins, the industry anticipates a surge of panic buying. If Trump wins, there could also be a spike if civil unrest continues.
Strickland also noted the pandemic has limited the supply of guns and ammunition, which may also be contributing to the increased demand and would likely persist no matter the outcome of the election.