Despite orders in several states to shutter all nonessential businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic, gun dealers kept their doors open last month and initiated tens of thousands of background checks, USA Today reports. FBI data from five states—Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, and Washington—shows that gun shops flouted state orders in April to meet the surging demand for firearms during the pandemic. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System processed almost 3 million background checks in April, which is the fourth highest month on record since 1998, according to USA Today.
Gun dealers in Washington state reportedly initiated 42,000 checks, which is a 45 percent increase compared to April 2019. “What’s the motivation for implementing a nonessential order if it’s not going to be enforced and has no impact?” said Anthony Coulson, a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent. Some defiant gun store owners told USA Today that they breached orders because they saw them as a violation of their constitutional right to bear arms.