TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Nationwide, gun sales have risen in the wake of the uncertainty that comes from coronavirus, and new data shows that Florida is no different.
WFLA+ received new data from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement indicating a sharp increase of background checks from first-time gun owners in Florida.
Just last week, between the dates of March 12 and March 22, Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement processed 87,641 background checks. During the same time frame in 2019, the department handled only 30,446 background checks, a fraction of this year’s number.
Background checks for firearms
Background checks for firearms have risen dramatically compared to this time last year. Hover over the bar to see the exact number of firearm background checks the state has received between March 12 and March 22 of the last three years.Source: Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Each day between March 18 and March 21, the Florida Department of Law processed more than 10,000 background checks per day.
During that time period last year, the department received between 2,300 and 2,774 background checks per day.
In Florida, where the gun ownership rate is more than 32 percent, more than 430,500 guns are already registered, making it the second-highest in the county.
The FBI is expecting hundreds of thousands of new gun owners, once data begins to roll in next week.
“It’s a time of uncertainty and people are realizing that they might need to feel safe,” Amy Hunter from the National Rifle Association told News Channel 8 DC correspondent Kellie Meyer.
Dan Tracy of Tampa Tactical Supply in Riverview agrees, saying that some people have even called his shop asking to pick up purchases early due to concerns about Martial Law, a rumor that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has debunked last week.
“We had our biggest day last week and now our walls are almost bare,” Tracy said. “I think how people are perceiving everything they read may send them into a panic about the virus and ultimately they just want to protect themselves against how other people may react.”