According to The Sacramento Bee, citing data from The Trace, from March 2020 to April 2021 Californians purchased approximately 920,000 handguns compared to 555,000 in the prior 14 months. That’s a jump of nearly 66 percent.
In fact (again from the Sac Bee article):
Eight of the 12 months with the most California handgun sales since 2000 occurred during the pandemic.
Compared to the prior 14 months, there were an additional 365,000 handguns sold during the pandemic lockdowns. There were an additional 183,000 long guns sold during pandemic lockdowns compared to the prior 14 months.
Most Americans who bought a gun during the pandemic said they did so as a protection against crime, according to a recent survey by researchers at Harvard and Northeastern University.
There was also considerable fear about the future at the start of lockdowns. The same survey found that about 24% of Americans who bought a gun during the pandemic were first-time gun buyers.
Other studies and data have suggested that the percent of first-time buyers last year was even higher; often upwards of 40 percent. As just one example, this NSSF study suggests it was 40.2 percent.
While this is great to see in California, the U.S. as a whole saw an even larger bump in year-over-year handgun sales. Doing that same March 2020 through April 2021 and comparing it to the previous 14 months trick, the numbers are 16.5 million to 9.27 million. An increase of 78 percent.
December of 2015 set the pre-pandemic national record for handgun sales with approximately 1.011 million sold, but this record was absolutely crushed by June of 2020’s 1.734 million figure. In fact, 11 of 14 of those March 2020 through April 2021 months beat that 2015 record.
While I’m at it, I believe D.C. set the percentage growth record, jumping over 276 percent from a pre-pandemic record of 161 handguns sold in May 2019 to 606 in August 2020.
Another fun way to look at it for D.C.: January 2020 through May 2021 saw 5,619 handgun sales. January 2000 through December 2019 saw 7,792.
Welcome to the club, new gun owners!