Applications to the FBI, state and local agencies for firearm transfers and permits rose to 25 million in 2020, the first nearly full year of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising from 16.7 million in 2019. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that about 1.6% of applications were denied in 2020, up from 1.5% the previous year. The overall increase in gun sales during the pandemic has been reported earlier.
Of the total, 12.8 million applications in 2020 were handled by the FBI, and the rest by state and local agencies. Among those received by state agencies in 2020, 2.7% of purchase permits were denied, as were 1.8% of instant background checks. BJS said that from the time the federal Brady Act went into effect in 1994 to 2020, almost 291.7 million applications were subject to background checks and about 4.4 million (1.5%) were denied.