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New Mexicans are arming themselves at an alarming rate in 2020, according to new data released by the FBI.
The FBI’s monthly report of the number of firearms purchase background check applications shows that more than 154,000 times so far this year, New Mexicans have attempted to buy a new firearm, outpacing last year’s rate by more than 133% year-to-date. The FBI does not maintain data on how many of those applications resulted in final sales or denials.
Fears surrounding pandemic lockdowns and the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 correspond to spikes in monthly background check applications in New Mexico, according to the data.
Following the issuance of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in March, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun stores in the state sued in federal court claiming those restrictions infringed on federal Second Amendment rights. Although they were not successful in that effort, stores still managed to post record-high checks for new sales.
The state posted a new monthly record in June following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the beginning of subsequent national calls for police reform under the “defund the police” banner.
On a national level, the Associated Press was reporting that the number of checks for June was up nearly 136% over June 2019, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents gunmakers. That adjusted figure was 2.2 million, the group said.
“Civil unrest, rioting, looting and calls to defund police are unquestionably motivating factors of why this trend is increasing. Americans are right to be concerned for their personal safety,” said Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the group told the AP.
But New Mexico’s rate of applications per resident far outpace the rate of many other states.
By comparison, New Jersey, a state with four-times as many residents, sought 112,293 new firearms over the same period. Nebraska, a state with just 150,000 fewer residents than New Mexico, reported just over 75,000 new applications so far in 2020 – half those applied for in New Mexico.