The Wuhan coronavirus pandemic has caused a surge in firearm purchases. In March, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) conducted a record-breaking 3.7 million checks. The Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting estimates that more than 2.5 million firearms were sold, which is an 85 percent increase over this time last year. Of those sales, roughly 91 percent of them are believed to be handgun sales.
Although NICS is considered a guideline for determining the health of the industry and buying habits, there's no definitive way to know whether or not someone is a first-time gun buyer. As Cam Edwards over at our sister site, Bearing Arms, noted, most gun dealers and employers are reporting that at least 50 percent of their customers are first-time buyers.
"It’s likely that over the course of the month of March, more than 1-million Americans made the decision to exercise their right to keep and bear arms for the first time in their lives," Edwards wrote. "That is a staggering number, and it would undoubtedly be even higher if states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania had allowed gun stores to remain open, instead of forcing them to close for more than a week."
With so many Americans deciding to exercise their Second Amendment rights, the National Rifle Association decided to offer online courses. These courses are designed to provide first-time buyers with the knowledge to safely handle firearms and defend themselves should the need arise, all while distancing themselves from others.
"These courses will provide an option for first-time gun owners who don't have the ability to take an NRA certified instructor-led class at their local shooting range at this time," Joe DeBergalis, executive director of NRA General Operations, said in a statement. "While there is no replacement for in-person, instructor-led training, our new online classes do provide the basics of firearm safety training for those self-isolating at home."
Online courses include:
- Gun Safety Seminar
- NRA Basic Pistol Shooting Course
- NRA Basic Rifle Shooting Course
- NRA Basic Personal Protection In The Home Course
Courses range from one to eight hours and start at $60.