NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Nearly a million Tennesseans bought firearms in 2020, according to new data released by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

This the highest spike in gun sales in state history.

TBI officials say the pandemic, civil unrest and the presidential election all served as the catalysts for the rise.

“Also mentioned are talks of defunding the police,” said Pam Beck, TBI assistant director. “People feel like they have to protect themselves.”

March was the biggest month for gun sales last year with more than 85,000 transactions.

KRB Firearms II and The Range have been selling guns and teaching people how to shoot in Mount Juliet for the last few years.

“When we first opened up, they were just looking for just the basic gun,” said Ryan Brooks, the owner. “They knew what they wanted and they weren’t in any big hurry to purchase anything.”

The gun shop began to see a change right at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. They now see 40 to 50 customers a day.

“It’s been pretty intense,” said Brooks. “People are coming in and just buying a gun regardless of the price.”

Brooks says many of his buyers are couples or members of the same family looking for small, compact firearms to carry and protect their homes.

“In 2019, we offered a beginner class,” Brooks explained. “We might have done 5 or 10 a week. Now, we’re doing anywhere between 2-3 a day.”

Interestingly enough, Brooks says many of those folks are also first time gun buyers who have never shot a gun or do not yet own one.

According to TBI, 818,567 guns were purchased in 2020.