Newspaper article

No Spike in Gun Sales in Minnesota in Wake of Shooting in Florida

Newspaper article

No Spike in Gun Sales in Minnesota in Wake of Shooting in Florida

Article excerpt

In recent years, a trend has emerged when it comes to gun purchases, both nationally and in Minnesota.

Almost without fail, in the wake of a mass shooting the number of guns purchased spikes as people amass more weapons. It happened after the shooting in the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado; it happened after 20 children and six adults were shot and killed in Newtown, Connecticut, it happened after two shooters killed 14 at a social services center in San Bernardino, California.

Given that reliable pattern, you might have expected a repeat jump in gun sales after the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14. But that doesn’t appear to be the case — at least not yet — according to FBI data on firearm background checks. In fact, in Minnesota there were actually fewer background checks this February than in February of 2017. That connects with another trend that’s emerged since President Donald Trump’s inauguration: Firearms purchases are declining.

The ‘Trump slump’

Some call this dip in background checks and gun sales, which started in mid-2017, “the Trump slump.”

In February, the FBI conducted 49,636 background checks on Minnesotans, a 20 percent decrease from February of last year, when 62,051 background checks were conducted on Minnesotans.

Background checks were up slightly at the national level — by 4 percent — this February, with 2.33 million over last, when there were 2.23 million, the data show.

Minnesota background checks by month, 2010-present


Background checks don’t correlate perfectly with gun sales.

In Minnesota, a person who wants to buy a handgun, semiautomatic military-style assault weapon or some long guns through a federally-licensed dealer is required to get a permit, which includes a background check. They fill out an application with their local police department. Some crimes, including felonies, orders of protection, domestic assault and violent crimes, plus orders of protection against the would-be buyer, disqualify a person from being cleared to buy a gun.

That background check allows a Minnesotan to purchase guns for one year, said William Hutton, the former Washington County sheriff who is now the executive director of the Minnesota Sheriffs' Association. …

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