How the coronavirus led to the highest-ever spike in US gun sales
Americans grappling with the rapidly-spreading coronavirus purchased more guns last month than at any other point since the FBI began collecting data over 20 years ago. Why?
With the death toll climbing every day and most of the country under some form of lockdown, many Americans seem to be turning to guns as part of their response.
And it's not just about fears over social disorder, say experts.
What do the figures show?
The FBI conducted 3.7m background checks in March 2020, the highest total since the instant background check programme began in 1998.
The figure represents an increase of 1.1m over March 2019.
On 21 March alone, 210,000 checks were done, the largest one-day record ever.
According to US media, the FBI data indicates that over two million guns were purchased in March alone.
Illinois led with nearly a half million sales, followed by Texas, Kentucky, Florida, and California.
Gun shops across the country report that they are unable to re-stock shelves quickly enough to cope with the rush.
The latest figure also tops the previous high of 3.3 million, which was set in December 2015 after the Obama administration raised the possibility of restricting assault rifles in the wake of a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.
Why are sales skyrocketing?
According to Georgia State University law school professor Timothy Lytton, an expert on the US gun industry, most new gun sales are being motivated by two factors that have been spurred on by the coronavirus crisis.
The first is the concern that civil society - fire, police and health services - could be severely "eroded" someday, leading to a breakdown in law and order. In such a case, a gun can be viewed as a "self-help" survival tool, he says.
The second reason is concerns over so-called big government infringing on American freedoms such as gun ownership, which is enshrined in the US constitution.
"Many of the public health measures, such as shelter-in-place, restricting peoples' movements, restricting what people can buy," Mr Lytton says, "raises fears among many groups of the potential for government takeover and tyranny."
In some ways these two reasons are in opposition to each other, he tells BBC News.
"Some people are worried about the fact that government's falling apart and won't protect them, and other people are worried that the government is getting too strong and is going to limit their freedom."...