FORBES.COM December 23, 2020 – Guns are selling briskly ahead of Christmas, wrapping up a record-breaking year for manufacturers who couldn’t make enough guns and ammunition to meet demand.
“Demand for guns and ammo is high,” said Steve Dowdy, owner of Bob’s Gun Shop in Norfolk, Virginia, who reopened his shooting range for mask-wearing customers on the weekend before Christmas.
“Overall sales are comparable to past holiday seasons, but I believe we would be up 30% to 40% if we had more inventory.” Gun shops are running lean on inventory nationwide, especially for ammunition. Customers who call the number at Legend Firearms in Monroe Township, Pennsylvania, are greeted by a recording saying that the store is out of handgun ammunition until next year. The recording also says there’s only one Glock left, “but by the time you hear this message, it will probably be gone.”
Sales for guns and ammunition have been strong since the Covid-19 pandemic swept through America in March, infecting more than 18 million Americans to date and killing more than 322,000, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center. Economic uncertainty, massive layoffs and civil unrest are prompting Americans to buy guns.
Eight million Americans bought a gun for the first time in 2020, estimates Mark Oliva, public affairs director for the National Shootings Sports Foundation, the gun industry group. Background checks, the closest nationwide proxy for gun sales, have never been so strong. The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted 35.75 million background checks for gun purchases through November of this year. That easily exceeds 2019’s record of 28.36 million over the entire year. Gun makers Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger RGR have reported double-digit increases in sales.
Ammunition has been selling out nonstop since the summer. “There’s no inventory,” said Angie Rizos, manager of Tech Ops International Corp. in Phillipsburg, N.J., when asked about the bullet shortage. Rizos said she rations ammo purchases to one box per customer, a practice that’s become widespread during the pandemic. She said she requires everybody to wear a mask.
Bailey Murphy, manager of Ammo AZ, a Phoenix gun store owned by his father Veerachart, said he’s been rationing ammo purchases, which he hates to do, because he doesn’t like telling people what to do, which is why he doesn’t require mask-wearing in his store, despite the deadly pandemic. [full article]