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An employee at SP Firearms Unlimited in Franklin Square, New York, in August. Photo: Mike Pont/Getty Images

The FBI has processed more gun background checks in 2020 than in any other year on record, according to data the agency released Tuesday. Over 32 million guns were processed through the end of October.

The big picture: Gun sales in the U.S. spiked significantly in March when the coronavirus pandemic first began to spread in earnest across the country, per the New York Times.

Between the lines via Axios' Stef Kight: Mass social uncertainty often leads to an increase in gun buying, David Yamane, a Wake Forest University sociology professor who has studied gun culture, told Axios.

By the numbers: Eight of the busiest weeks on record for firearm background checks took place this year, per FBI data.

  • March 20 saw the most in a single day since 1998, when the National Instant Criminal Background Check System was created.

Flashback: The Trump administration deemed gun shops, shooting ranges and weapons manufacturers "essential" businesses at the end of March, allowing them to remain open during initial shutdowns in response to the pandemic this spring.

Go deeper: Behind the gun sales spike

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

New deals in the COVID economy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 is the macro horror of our lifetimes, and has destroyed or severely damaged countless businesses. But, like with most horribles, it also has created some opportunities.

Driving the news: Merck this morning announced an agreement to buy OncoImmune, a Maryland-based biotech that showed promising late-stage clinical results for a therapy that treats severe and critical coronavirus cases.

2 hours ago - Technology

Biden's openings for tech progress

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images 

Item No. 1 on President-elect Joe Biden's day-one tech agenda, controlling the flood of misinformation online, offers no fast fixes — but other tech issues facing the new administration hold out opportunities for quick action and concrete progress.

What to watch: Closing the digital divide will be a high priority, as the pandemic has exposed how many Americans still lack reliable in-home internet connections and the devices needed to work and learn remotely.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Saudi Arabia denies Netanyahu met secretly with crown prince

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif at a press conference on Nov. 18. Photo: Menahem Kahana/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled in secret Sunday to the city of Neom on Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coast for a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli sources told me.

The latest: Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan on Monday denied the meeting took place — a signal that the Saudis may be unhappy with the leak or are at least trying to publicly distance themselves from the meeting. Netanyahu, on the other hand, has not denied the story.