Posted by Curt on 20 March, 2020 at 9:53 am. 7 comments already!


The coronavirus pandemic has put a strain on the gun and ammunition industry, as well as the FBI’s background check system, due to surging demand.

So many Americans are flocking to local gun stores to stock up on firearms and ammunition in the face of the novel coronavirus that dealers say they are scrambling to keep up with demand. The surge is also causing delays in FBI background checks, forcing gun owners and first-time buyers alike to wait for their purchases to be approved. In the worst affected areas, the normally instantaneous checks could begin to take weeks.

“This is the craziest I have ever seen it. We sold out of all FMJ in the main calibers … and are only left with some high-end self-defense ammo,” Scott Blick, a managing partner at Ammunition Depot, told the Washington Free Beacon. “We have ammo coming in by the truckload to restock, but it will be a long time before we are back to normal inventory.”

The FBI said it only publicly releases data on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) monthly but the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearms industry’s trade group, said the number of gun checks tripled at one point.

“We did have a conversation with the FBI yesterday. And they told us on Monday, March 16, 2020, NICS checks were 300 percent higher than they were March 16, 2019,” Mark Oliva, a spokesman for the NSSF, told the Free Beacon. “Since February 23 through present, on average, every day has been at least double what it was last year. There certainly has been a run on people buying firearms and people buying ammunition.”

At local gun shops visited by the Free Beacon in Pennsylvania and Virginia, the increased demand was evident, as well as precautions against spreading the virus among customers and staff. At Hudson’s Outfitters & Firearms in Pottstown, Pa., on Wednesday, the staff limited ammunition purchases to those who also purchased a firearm from their dwindling in-store stock. The store also restricted the number of people allowed inside the store at a single time to 10 customers. Customers stood in line outside the store about six feet apart.

“It’s been like this for a couple of days,” Spencer, a salesman at Hudson’s, said.

The sudden surge in gun and ammo sales are similar to ones America has experienced in the wake of terror attacks. Police in major cities, including Philadelphia and New York, have already publicly announced they will temporarily forgo some arrests due to the pandemic. A 21-year-old, who did not wish to be named, told the Free Beacon he currently lives in Philadelphia for school and cited the city’s announcement as the reason he wanted to purchase a handgun for the first time.

“I’m kind of worried. I want to be able to protect myself,” the man said.

The rush was just as evident at Sharpshooters in Lorton, Va., on Thursday. The store hung a sign on the door informing customers of the increased cleaning regimen it has instituted and many employees wore gloves. The stock of guns was mostly depleted but the store was still selling some common ammunition, including 9mm and 5.56 NATO with a two-box limit.

Sales of some items had surged as much as nine-fold, retailers said. Anthony Welch, a spokesman for ammunition seller Lucky Gunner, said sales of .223 and 5.56—rounds used in the AR-15 and other semiautomatic rifles—are up 900 percent, while 9mm ammunition increased by 500 percent.

“We’ve definitely been busy,” Welch said. “We’ve added customer service team members and our crew is working overtime to try to keep up. So far, our guys at the warehouse are doing great. It seems there’s little doubt this is as a result of the coronavirus and everything that could come with it.”

He added that shotgun rounds have also surged “a disproportionate amount.”

“It’s usually a decent seller but this week, it’s really taken off. I suppose that makes sense because of its reputation as a great round for home defense,” Welch said.

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