April 27, 2020

Arming for the Unknown: Spiking U.S. Firearms Sales Amid COVID-19

Below is an excerpt from ISS ESG’s recently released “Arming for the Unknown: Spiking U.S. Firearms Sales Amid COVID-19.” The full paper is available for download from the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) online library.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives and livelihoods, as well as entire business sectors. As the virus envelopes the world, many businesses in the hospitality and entertainment sectors are experiencing layoffs and bankruptcies. By contrast, food retailers and delivery services saw sales increase due to a combination of panic-buying and the imposition of shelter-in-place rules. In the United States (U.S.), firearms retailers also saw a surge of new business as many first-time buyers flocked to stock up, fearing potential social unrest and increased government interference.

As the world is in the midst of a global pandemic, the U.S. has observed an unprecedented surge in private demand for firearms and ammunition. According to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), about 3.7 million firearms background checks were initiated in March 2020, the highest monthly total since the agency started recording figures in 1998. The agency also recorded the single highest ever daily figure, with 210,308 enquiries received on March 20.


By: Verena Simmel, Michael Jenks; ISS ESG

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