The demand for guns, bullets and ammunition in Montana has caused a record surge in FBI firearm background checks in the state and has retailers and manufacturers overwhelmed and shocked. Ted Beardsley, the owner of Empire Arms and Ammunition in Manhattan, Montana, pauses for a moment when asked if he’s seen an big increase in gun and ammo sales in 2020.
“That’s an understatement,” Beardsley said. “It’s been absolutely insane. On Friday the 13th of March we saw a very odd uptick that afternoon. Then, starting Saturday March 14th, it has been absolutely non-stop since. The first three or four months were absolute insanity.” Beardsley said wholesalers across the country can’t keep up with demand that retailers like him are seeing. “It’s on a national scale,” he said. “I normally have about 75 handguns in the case and I’m down to two. I just can’t get ’em from wholesalers.” Customers are looking for “anything defensive,” including defensive shotguns. “One wholesaler of mine has only had one defensive shotgun come available in 9 months,” Beardsley said. He’s close to Interstate 90, and he believes people are Googling “gun shops near me” as they drive down the highway. He’s had customers from other states tell him they can’t get any guns or ammo where they’re from so they’re now searching in Montana. “There’s been days where I get 50-100 calls asking if we have ammo,” he said. “We’re about three-and-a-half miles out of the population hub, so I understand people wanting to call ahead before they come out, but it can be kind of infuriating.” It’s gotten to the point where even hearing-protection and gun-cleaning supplies are being wiped out. [full article]