We know that ammunition sale have surged by 300% for some retailers around the country, but it’s been a little difficult to get numbers on the spike in firearm sales. Larry Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation told Bearing Arms on Tuesday that the NICS numbers have soared over the past week or so, but didn’t have any hard numbers.
Now we’re starting to get an idea of what Larry was talking about, thanks to some new information out of Colorado.
From Fox 31 in Denver:
Gun sales in the last week have doubled in Colorado, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the agency responsible for conducting background checks.
FOX31 and Channel 2 investigative reporter Chris Koeberl discovered more than 14,000 firearms were sold in just one week. About 7,000 guns were sold during the same time period last year.
According to Joe Oltmann, the owner of DCF Guns in Castle Rock, many customers are afraid what’s available today may not be tomorrow.
“The panic started with toilet paper, then moved to food. Then, obviously when people see bare shelves, then obviously they want to make sure they will protected if it gets any worse,” Oltmann said.
As my colleague Tom Knighton noted today, people aren’t buying guns because they think they can shoot the virus. They’re buying firearms and ammunition because they’re worried about what happens next.
Think about all of the ways your world has changed in just a week. Is it really paranoid or delusional to be concerned that things will get worse? Of course not.
Oltmann says many of the people crowding into his store this week are first time gun buyers, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation is warning that because of the large volume of sales, the state’s instant background check system isn’t so instantaneous at the moment.
The FOX31 Problem Solvers also found the other fallout to all the guns sales is the time it takes for the CBI to conduct the necessary background checks on buyers. A couple of weeks ago, that would have taken about 45 minutes to an hour, with about 97% approved. Now, buyers will have to wait two to three days for the background check and final sale to be complete.
“The demand has created a current queue of nearly 5,000 checks awaiting processing,” the CBI said in a written statement.
The agency said it implemented the following changes to keep up with demand:
- “Expanding internal InstaCheck hours of operation. (Public hours of operation remain 9am-9pm; however, examiners are working outside of those hours to reduce the queue.)
- Cross-training specialized CBI staff members to assist in the background check process off-site to help ensure social distancing related to COVID-19.
- Retasking employees to InstaCheck who had recently accepted new assignments in other CBI sections.
- Making some modifications to the submission process for background checks.”
Now, this is just one state, but I’d say it’s probably indicative of where we are as a country right now in terms of the volume of sales. Obviously in a state like Texas the total number of sales is going to be far higher than 14,000 firearms, but I wouldn’t be surprised if sales had doubled there as well.
The spike in sales right now is like nothing gun store owners have ever seen. My local gun store in Farmville, Virginia sold thousands of dollars in ammunition on Tuesday, when on a normal day they might sell a couple of boxes. Even in places where most gun owners have a solid supply of ammunition, people are buying more and new gun owners are coming in, eager to pick up something they can use to protect themselves and their families.