Background checks indicate firearm sales are up

Local News

OREM, Utah (ABC4 News) – Firearm sales in the State of Utah are up according to data collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Utah Department of Public Safety.

Firearm stores are considered essential businesses and a lot of people are headed to places like Ready Gunner in Orem.

Ready Gunner Store in Orem

“In the 10 years we have been in business, I have never seen this many new gun owners,” said store owner Neal Currey. “I mean it happened essentially overnight when news reports of obviously COVID-19 coming out, and then when we really saw a big spike is when the earthquake hit here.”

Sergent Nick Street with the Utah Highway Patrol and Department of Public Safety gave ABC4 News the background checks conducted in February and March of the last two years.

  • February 2019 Firearm Background Checks: 7,868 + 8,403 Concealed Firearm Permit verifications
  • March 2019 Firearm Background Checks: 10,462 + 10,487 Concealed Firearm Permit verifications
  • February 2020 Firearm Background Checks: 8,886 + 9,024 Concealed Firearm Permit verifications
  • March 2020 Firearm Background Checks: 23,715 + 13,280 Concealed Firearm Permit verifications

“Quite a jump into March 2020, much more than that seasonal jump we see traditionally from February to March,” said Sgt. Street. “Just based on the sheer volume of background checks that we have done in March of 2020, I would say there is likely a correlation to COVID-19 and the increase of firearm background checks,” says Sgt. Street.

The numbers the state released are different than those of the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System or NICS.

The FBI states agents conducted 101,382 firearm background checks in March. Up from the 83,113 in February.

Breaking the numbers down, the FBI shows us 4,151 customers got a background check for a handgun and 3,460 were checked for long guns in February of 2020.

Then in March, 13,908 people were checked for handguns and another 8,665 for long guns.

It’s a difference of 9,757 people wanting handguns and another 5,205 wanting long guns.

“When it comes to those checks the FBI has their numbers for, they’re taking into account all the checks we do from the State of Utah,” said Sgt. Street. “That includes the background checks for firearms purchases, but it also includes every time we do a check for someone who has applied for a concealed firearm permit, and every time we do a check for somebody who has renewed their firearm permit.”

There is something these numbers do not show.

“You know these numbers don’t necessarily speak to the number of firearms purchased,” said Sgt. Street. “There are still private party to private party transactions that aren’t covered by a background check and are lawfully allowed in the State of Utah.”

Ammo Sales

Not only are the gun sales up, but ammo is flying off the shelves too. Many stores are limiting the number of boxes each customer can buy.

“But we want them educated too,” said Currey. “So when we have people out with guns, we want them to know how to shoot it.”

Shop owners say concealed carry permit classes are booked out till July/August because of social distancing limiting the number of people in the class.

“It’s one of those things, yeah you got to be responsible with it,” said Utah Resident Brad Donahoo.

Donahoo is looking at purchasing a competition gun. He’s amazed by how many people are taking up arms.

“I’m super, super big on people carrying guns and people using guns for self-defense,” he said. “Obviously, things are pretty crazy right now. The world is kind of freaking out.”

Law enforcement asks if you do purchase a firearm to please store it under lock and key until you’re ready to use it safely.

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