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EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) – 2020 is a year unlike any other, and firearms experts say that instability could be the exact reason why gun sales are setting records.

“We have already surpassed all of the guns sold last year and we are well on our way to surpassing our record of 2016,” Mark Oliva of the National Shooting Sports Foundation said.

Oliva said gun sales usually increase during election years, but the spike this year has been particularly large.

He explained that 40 percent of people buying guns in 2020 are first-time gun owners. That equals more than five million new gun owners, with the strongest growth coming from women and Black men.

Big increases began in March when President Trump declared a National Emergency because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Google searches for gun sales peaked again after George Floyd was killed in police custody at the end of May.

“I’ve been in the industry for about 10 years now, and this is probably the craziest we’ve ever seen it,” said Kendall Knapik, owner of Pioneer Valley Arms in Massachusetts. “It’s mostly shotguns, home-defense shotguns. Those were the first to sell out. Then, people moved to handguns once the shotgun manufacturers couldn’t keep up with the demand.”

Jurgen Brauer of Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting said when protests turned into calls to defund police, many Americans began to question their safety and buy guns to protect themselves.

“Security fears became very prominent,” Brauer explained. “People saying either, if we need security the police may not come or if they do come, we may not be treated impartially.”

The jump in sales means big profits for manufacturers. Smith and Wesson reported its revenue more than doubled last quarter compared to a year ago.