RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Sales of firearms in Virginia soared to historic levels last month.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the rise in purchases is happening amidst the uncertainty of the coronavirus and protests against racism and police brutality.
There were 81,204 transactions in June, according to newly released figures from the Virginia Firearms Transaction Center. The center conducts mandatory criminal background checks on gun buyers.
Sales in June had the highest monthly total on record since state police began tracking purchasing data in 1990. Last month’s purchases were an increase of 157% over the number of transactions conducted during the same month in 2019.
Virginia firearms dealers say the surge in sales began with fears over gun restrictions from the new Democratic majority in the General Assembly. Then came the coronavirus pandemic and fears of a breakdown in public order. That was followed by the widespread protests against police brutality and calls by some to decrease funding for police departments.
Mark Oliva, the director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told The Associated Press last week that civil unrest and calls to defund police “are unquestionably motivating factors” for gun buyers.