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Local instructors urge importance of firearm safety amid spike in sales during COVID-19

In March 2019, the TBI processed 47,052 background checks on firearm sales. This March, they did 77,061.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Recent numbers from the Tennessee Bureau of investigation show guns sales have increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In March 2019, the TBI processed 47,052 background checks on firearm sales. This March, they did 77,061.

Robbie Paskiewicz and Tim Carroll have almost 50 years combined of gun training experience. 

"It's a huge responsibility to own a firearm," said Carroll. 

"You need to have training. Common sense with a gun, that's not enough," said Paskiewicz.

Carroll said a spike in sales means a spike in training.

"There's usually a few months leeway on that especially now with the pandemic."

RELATED: TBI working to keep up with nearly twice the amount of requests for gun background checks

They said new gun owners need to know a lot like fundamentals, marksmanship and safety. 

"Shooting a firearm on a live range is a small fraction of what you need to know," said Carroll. "We want as trainers that people know how to use the firearm, how to properly load, unload, fire the firearm, stand and aim," said Paskiewicz. 

Both stress safety is most important. "Treat every firearm as if it were loaded," said Carroll. 

"There's too many stories about people firing a firearm accidentally," said Paskiewicz, who urges people to to keep their firearm hidden in a secure, locked area. "You need to prevent it from being accessed by unauthorized people."

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security lists more than 250 handgun safety schools across the state, like local businesses and sheriff's offices. 

After initial training, both recommend practicing regularly even if you have years of experience.

"Once a month at a live range, practice your skills every day," said Carroll. 

They're imperative skills that protect you and those around you. 

"They have to get training if they're going to utilize that firearm in a safe effective manner." 

In the middle of April, the TBI received 3,917 requests for a firearm background check. In comparison, during the same time in 2019 the TBI received just 972 requests.

RELATED: What's essential? In France: pastry, wine. In US: golf, guns

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