HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - In 2020, the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted more firearm background checks than any other year since the agency started tracking in 1998.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, gun sales have surged in the United States.
According to the FBI, nearly 39.7 million background checks for gun purchases were conducted in 2020, a 60% increase compared to 2019. This year, there was a record number of background checks in March alone. Three of the weeks are now in the top five spots since tracking started.
Although background checks are not the same as gun sales, it does show more and more people are interested in purchasing firearms. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, 40% of sales in 2020 came from first-time buyers.
Joseph Green, a sergeant at the Southern Regional Public Safety Institute in Hattiesburg, says he’s seen a significant upward trend in his self-defense and firearms training classes.
“I tend to get students of all types and really it has been increasing in the female side for firearms training,” Green said.
Green, a career law enforcement officer since 2002, uses his experience to help those seeking personal protection training.
“It’s teaching others how to safely use those firearms so that we can continue to exercise our Second Amendment right,” Green said.
He says proper training is critical.
“If you buy a gun and it gives you that sense of security, oftentimes it’s a false sense of security because you really don’t know how to use it in a defensive, dynamic, scary situation,” Green said.
Green says he always begins his training classes with the fundamentals.
“I’ve got to teach them how to be safe with it, then I’ve got to teach them how to shoot it and get the marksmanship fundamentals down,” Green said.
Once gun handling is where it needs to be, Green then adds a little bit of stress.
“We call that ‘stress inoculation,’ where we slowly over time increase their exposure to stress in order for them to be able to perform the way they would like to perform under real-world situations and circumstances,” Green said.
When it comes to self-defense, Green also teaches various movements, techniques and gives realistic training scenarios.
“Self-defense is more than you being able to use a firearm really well,” Green said. “Self-defense involves things like being aware of your surroundings.”
With gun sales on the rise, Green says firearm education is an important factor for people to consider when purchasing a gun.
“You’ve got to be able to handle that weapon safely,” Green said. “I couldn’t imagine anything much worse than purchasing a firearm for safety and negligently or ignorantly doing something that would cause someone that would be unsafe.”