An unprecedented surge in gun sales

This chart shows the spike in US gun sales that took place in March, as fear of COVID-19 took hold. The massive spike blows past previous surges in sales set after mass shootings, most prominently after Sandy Hook.

BuzzFeed News estimated gun sales from the FBI’s monthly figures on background checks for gun buyers, using a method developed by Jurgen Brauer of the consultancy Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting. Gun sales are highly seasonal, typically peaking in December, but we removed seasonal trends using a correction method from the US Census Bureau. This reveals any transient spikes that are not part of the seasonal pattern.

The spike for March 2020 is unprecedented. The dotted line labeled COVID-19 marks Feb. 29, when the first death from the disease in the US, a male health worker in his fifties from Washington state, was recorded.