by Kimberly James
Gun sales reached a five-year high in Connecticut in 2021, the year that the FBI saw the second-highest number of recorded background checks.
According to Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, there were 21 million background checks for gun sales in 2020 and 18.5 million in 2021, nationwide. Those figures are the top two highest on record.
“Background checks skyrocketed in March 2020, when there were 2.3 million background checks recorded,” Oliva told The Center Square. “That was the most ever recorded in a single month. That, of course, was the beginning of the pandemic lockdowns. People became concerned for their safety when police were warning they would not be able to respond to all emergency calls because they were seeing COVID infections rise.”
Oliva said that concern continued through summer when the George Floyd protests quickly morphed into riots, looting and arson.
“Then we headed into the presidential election, where gun rights was an issue,” Oliva said. “Those same safety concerns have continued through 2021 and that wasn’t isolated to Connecticut. It was observed in every state.”
Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in 2012, Connecticut has passed some of the toughest gun regulations in the country. But sales began to rise in the summer of 2021 and continued throughout the rest of the year.
“[Lawmakers] will frequently talk about Connecticut as the pinnacle of what gun control should be, but Connecticut residents don’t feel safe in their communities,” Holly Sullivan, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, told NewsTimes. “Connecticut residents continue to prove they want access to firearms.”
Data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System show there were a total of 277,000 firearms background checks in the state in 2021.
“The firearm industry remains strong and competitive,” Oliva said. “We’ve seen spikes and dips in previous years, as will any manufacturing industry. The record of 21 million background checks wasn’t predicted or anticipated, and the fact that there were 18.5 million background checks in 2021 indicates that there is still an increased interest in lawful firearm ownership.”
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