Tri-Cities gun dealers discuss sales as background checks near nationwide record high

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TRI-CITIES (WJHL) – A newly released report shows background checks are approaching a record high this year. So far, there have been more than 25 million conducted by the FBI, nearing the 27.5 million in 2016.

“I think it’s been doing that for the last few years,” said Russell Davis of Barnett’s Guns in Hampton, Tennessee.

Generally, background checks are an indicator of gun sales.

“People get scared and they start buying more guns and ammunition,” said Jon’s Guns Owner Jonathan Hall.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, firearm transactions are down from this time last year. From January 2018 through November 2018, TBI recorded 423,169 firearms transactions. Through November of this year, TBI recorded 420,357 firearms transactions.

As part of the Tennessee Instant Check System (TICS) and in accordance with Tennessee law, TBI personnel perform background checks on prospective gun buyers or those redeeming a firearm from pawn or from a licensed firearm dealer.

However, this year’s Black Friday sales surpassed that of 2018. From January 2018 through November 2018, TBI records 7,076 firearms transactions. That is compared to 7,418 through November 2019.

“This year our Black Friday sales were the best sales we’ve had since we’ve been open,” said Hall.

Across the state line in Virginia, Hall said his store Jon’s Guns has seen a large increase in sales as the year comes to an end.

On Black Friday alone, he said his store saw a 450% increase in firearms sales compared to last year.

He attributes that to both the statewide and national political climate.

“The background checks are going up because we suspect there may be some changes to the gun laws in the near future,” said Hall.

Davis said he has seen an increase in sales at Barnett’s Guns compared to last year. He said that could be due to the upcoming 2020 presidential election or buyers expressing a need for safety.

“So many people that come in here and talk about that big city crime that’s close to home now,” he said, “and I have people come in that’s never even touched a firearm, ‘How do I go about getting one and how do I learn how to use one?'”

Davis says increased sales could also be in part to the store’s range reopening after it was out of commission last year.

He also says gun sales are typically up from the holidays through tax season.

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