HELENA -- In March of 2020, the FBI's National Instant Crime Background Check System registered over 3.74 million background checks for the month, over 400 thousand more than second-highest month on record. The second-highest month for the NICS came in December of 2015. On December 2, 2015, 14 people were killed and 20 were injured in a mass shooting at a Social Service Center in San Bernardino, California.
Though the number of background checks does not correlate to the number of firearms sold due to different state restrictions it shows, now more than ever, people are interested in firearms.
For Steven Egeline, president of the Last Chance Handgunner's association in Boulder, his assumption is that people are more interested now due to potential strain on emergency services.
“There's a lot of speculation going on right now, and that's all I'll call it is speculation, but people are afraid in the sense that if first responders start becoming sick, then they'll have to defend themselves,” said Egeline.
Ed Beall, owner of Capital Sports in Helena, said even he’s noticed more interest in certain firearms.
“We saw kind of a surge in was new customers looking for smaller pistols, home protection type stuff,” said Beall. "We did see quite a bit of increase in that overall firearm sales, but we didn't see a huge increase."
With increased interest in firearms, requires increased awareness revolving gun safety, namely proper handling of firearms. Both Egeline and Beall said taking gun safety courses is one of the things first-time gun owners can do to ensure they’re handling their firearms properly.
“Number one is knowing how to use them safely," said Beall. "Firearms need to be handled safely. I definitely recommend taking a personal training course.”
“What I would really recommend, whether you intend to get a concealed weapons license or not, is to take formal training from a concealed weapons licensed instructor," said Egeline.