As Lawmakers Entertain Bill Banning Concealed Guns in Public Buildings, Gun Purchases Soar Federal figures show that gun purchases, which spiked in 2020, continued at a high level in January 2021. Winter Lights Festival, Pioneer Courthouse Square. (Sam Gehrke) Behind the heated rhetoric around SB 554 are statistics from the FBI that show Oregonians’ interest in owning guns rose sharply last year and continued unabated in January. Here, according to FBI statistics, are the number of background checks conducted on prospective gun buyers in Oregon for each of the past five years. (Not every background check results in a purchase, but because checks are only conducted when a buyer seeks a gun, they are a good proxy for gun demand.) On a percentage basis, the number of background checks conducted on Oregonians jumped 44% in in 2020 and the number of checks done in the first month of 2021—49,755—was higher than all but one month in 2020 (that was March) and is a 57% increase from last January’s total. News reporter Nigel Jaquiss joined Willamette Week in 1998. He covers politics.