Gun stores are seeing a huge surge in sales because of the coronavirus.
Last Friday I swung by a sporting goods store to pick up some 9mm ammo. As I checked out the shelves of ammunition, I realized something. There seemed to be fewer boxes on the shelves than normal.
In fact, the National Shooting Sports Foundation has new data showing a 17 percent increase in background checks as of last Sunday.
This has been part of a nationwide trend since the first news stories about the virus broke back in January. FOX News reports that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System saw a 25 percent increase in January, and a 34 percent increase in February.
FOX did interviews at gun shops across the nation and found that for some stores, sales were up 30 to a staggering 400 percent, depending on the locale.
In Austin, Robyn Sandoval, the executive director of A Girl & a Gun Women's Shooting League, told reporters that not only were sales of guns and ammo up, but requests for training were too.
"Law abiding Americans want to have access to firearms during times of uncertainty," Sandal told FOX. "Families are social distancing and stocking up on food and supplies at home. The outbreak is creating a lot of anxiety in our communities. Families who have prepared at home want to be equipped to protect themselves from any looters or violence."
That sentiment was echoed by John McEvoy from Idaho. He told FOX News that he bought his first gun, a 9mm handgun, this week.
"As the situation continues to unfold, I predict that crime rates are going to increase," McEvoy said. "If food and basic necessities start to run out, I don't want to be the victim of a break-in and not be prepared to protect myself and my family."
In some areas, the demand for firearms has caused a delay in background checks. Delays varied from a few hours in Nevada to three weeks in Washington.
The New York Post interviewed people waiting in line at a gun store on Long Island on Tuesday and heard similar comments about wanting to be prepared.
"I think it's better to be safe than sorry. I don't know what's going to happen if things get worse and people don't have jobs," NYC resident David Straus told the Post.
While some stores had plenty of stock on hand, the paper reported another nearby store sold out of shotguns completely on Tuesday.
The sudden interest in self-defense handguns, shotguns and AR-style rifles hasn't gone unnoticed by the editor of Guns and Ammo Magazine, Eric Poole. He told FOX News gun sales were sagging during the Trump Presidency. That was until the virus became more serious.
"Prior to the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., the market was relatively stagnate due to product saturation, modest demand among existing gun owners and a slower growth among new shooters," Poole told the news organization. "Anytime there is an increased awareness for personal responsibility for health and safety placed on the American public, there is a rise in gun and ammunition sales."
Poole noted that government responses to problematic disasters like Hurricane Katrina in 2005 may still be fresh on people's minds. However, he is also concerned about firearms manufacturers being able to meet the sudden high demand.
"That percentage is expected to increase before the end of March dramatically," Poole told the station. "Firearms retailers and manufacturers were not prepared to meet the surge or a sustained long-term demand, so firearms and ammunition will seem to be largely absent from dealer shelves for weeks to come."
While the surge in sales is likely good for the firearms industry, gun shop owners also must take extra precautions with health experts suggesting strict cleaning protocol and social distancing to stop the spread of the virus.
The New York Post further reported that Long Island-based Coliseum Gun Traders decided to only let small groups of people in the store at a time.
Online sales are also booming. Ammo.com reported a 77 percent increase in site traffic and a 309 percent increase in sales this week. Most of those increases came from areas where positive tests of the virus are more prevalent.
It will be interesting to see how this trend of increasing firearms sales continues in the coming weeks as the U.S. works to get the virus under control.
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