Driven by increased attention to gun control in the wake of a high profile school shooting and the Columbine anniversary, Colorado gun sales jumped the most in a single month since President Donald Trump took office. Approved background checks in March, a proxy for sales, are up 19 percent over March of 2017.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation reported 38,785 approved background checks in March, but the spike wasn’t contained to Colorado. The FBI reported a 14 percent increase in background checks nationally.
March was a month filled with talk of guns. In February, 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida. Soon, even Republicans were talking about gun control. The conservative governor of Florida, Rick Scott, signed a bill into law that raised the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21, banned bump stocks, and created a three-day waiting period for gun sales. Late in the month, massive March for Our Lives rallies grabbed headlines around the country.
One clear indicator that gun control is driving sales is in the breakdown between handguns and long guns. March’s sales jump was led by rifles, which tend to be implicated in most gun control talk. Sales are up 23 percent compared to last March.
This was the first run on firearms created by fear of gun control since Republicans swept into power in D.C. But it didn’t last long, as little about guns was accomplished nationally. By April, gun sales in Colorado fell back to earth. Approved background checks were unchanged in April compared to April of the previous year.