According to figures from the Virginia Firearms Transaction Center, gun sales in the state jumped 75-percent over the same month in 2019, with a total of 80,228 transactions recorded last month. According to local gun stores, many of the customers coming through their doors are first-time gun buyers.

While gun control groups are wringing their hands over all of the new gun owners across the country, Culpeper County, Virginia Sheriff Scott Jenkins says he’s glad to see so many residents are exercising their rights for the first time, though he wishes it wasn’t under the current circumstances.

Sheriff Jenkins joins me on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co to talk about those new gun owners, how his office is handling the coronavirus threat, and what the shutdown of large swaths of the economy might mean for public safety budgets in the months ahead.

Unlike some sheriffs across the country, Jenkins is still accepting concealed carry applications in his office, and says he plans to do so unless something drastically changes in the county. When I asked if he’d seen a recent surge in interest, Jenkins told me that it’s hard to tell, since the number of applicants really began increasing for his office late last year, after Democrats took complete control of Virginia state government and began pushing their anti-gun agenda. Since then, the surge has never really slowed, though it it may have increased even more in recent weeks as some new gun owners decide they want to protect themselves on those rare occasions where they do have to leave their home.

Jenkins says it’s understandable that people want to protect themselves, especially when police departments are starting to be impacted by the coronavirus. The sheriff noted that it might be possible for the New York Police Department to call up auxiliary officers or even get help from neighboring departments, but it’s not a realistic possibility if a quarter of the Culpeper County sheriff’s office calls out sick with COVID-19 symptoms. People do have a right to protect themselves, says the sheriff, and that need is particularly acute during uncertain times.

Be sure to check out the entire interview with Sheriff Scott Jenkins above, and stick around for the story of a reputed gang leader in New Orleans released from custody over coronavirus concerns who ended up murdered days later, an armed citizen in Washington who held a burglar at gunpoint for local police, and a Farmville, Virginia business that’s gone from making kayaks to personal protective equipment for the local hospital.