The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives announced Friday new guidance which will allow federally licensed gun retailers to offer drive-through as well as curbside services for customers purchasing guns, in a bid to maximize social distancing and ease buyers' and sellers' concerns.
Gun shops "may carry out the requested activities through a drive-up or walk-up window or doorway where the customer is on the licensee's property, on the exterior of the brick-and-mortar structure at the address listed on the license," the guidance says.
Authorities said the new ATF guidance in no way alters the requirements for background checks.
The new rules come amid a surge in firearm sales related to unease about the new reality ushered in by COVID-19.
Last month, the FBI reported 3.7 million background checks, the most in a single month since the launch of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) in 1998. The March numbers surpassed the previous single-month high of 3.3 million checks in December 2015.
While the FBI does not track gun sales – multiple firearms can be purchased in a single transaction – NICS is a way to gauge market demand.