Gun background checks have spiked to record numbers in the past month amid concerns about safety during the coronavirus crisis.

FBI figures show that March saw the most background checks since the system began in 1998.

Gun dealers say Americans worried about protecting themselves have fueled runs on firearms and ammunition.

Gun control advocates worry the surge will lead to greater gun violence, especially among first-time buyers who may not be able to get proper training.

The soaring numbers come amid debate in cities and states about whether gun shops should be considered essential businesses that can stay open during lockdowns meant to reduce the spread of the virus.