Coronavirus linked to increase in gun, ammunition sales


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Fear and anxiety might be the reason for a surge in gun sales.

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Gun shop owners have never seen such a surge in sales — not after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, not in reaction to mass shootings, not even when Category 5 hurricanes threatened to flatten parts of Florida.

Fear and uncertainty about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic are motivating people to buy guns and ammunition.

“A lot of first-buyers are buying guns,” said Jonathan Bonham, one of the owners of Red Dot Shooting in Rockledge. “I’ve never seen anything like this. People who would never own a gun are coming in and buying one. They are worried there will be social disintegration and unrest across the board.”

During March, more than 2.4 million guns were sold across the nation. In fact, the United States is the home of the world’s largest gun-owning population per capita, where 40 percent of Americans say they own a gun or live in a household with guns.

Even so, concern about the accelerating spread of COVID-19 is causing a spike in sales, according to data from gun-tracking agencies, such as the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which saw a doubling of checks on applicant buyers last month.

Bonham said his busiest sales week at his Richard Road store was during the week in March when President Donald Trump announced the national lockdown and emergency stay-at-home policy. 

“This is more than your basic right to bear arms,” Bonham explained. “This one wasn’t political. This one is completely different. It’s affecting the psyche of American society.”

The spread of the coronavirus has created a run of both guns and ammunition the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the eve of the 2016 presidential election.

According to Ammo.com, an online retailer of ammunition, there have been massive increases in its ammo sales during the past month (as compared with the month prior, when the coronavirus was still a bit of a theoretical threat to most Americans). In Colorado, it says, its ammunition sales were up more than 1,000 percent. That number was as high as 945 percent in Arizona and 897 percent in Ohio.

“While people have stockpiled toilet paper, hand sanitizer and pantry essentials, they’ve also purchased ammunition at an unprecedented rate,” according to the website.

The answer, Bonham believes, is fear — although maybe not the same fear that has driven past booms in gun and ammo sales.

“This coronavirus pandemic strikes at security all across the board,” Bonham said. “People are worried they will be victims of higher crimes.”

In a recent Monmouth University national poll, almost 6 in 10 Americans said the coronavirus was the “biggest concern facing their family right now.” (Job security/unemployment was the second biggest concern, registering 35 percent.)

Seen through that lens, buying guns and ammo appears to be a way for many Americans to address the fear and anxiety they are feeling as the country faces down a virus that we have never seen before. 

“In my 12 years in the gun sales business I’ve never seen anything like this,” Bonham concluded. “The way people have responded to this (coronavirus pandemic) is amazing. I don’t know if we will ever see anything like this again.”

For more information about Red Dot Shooting, go to reddotshooting.com or call 321-821-3388.