A story published Monday detailed long lines and empty shelves at gun stores across the country. Hard data and actual sales numbers won’t be available until next month, but anecdotal evidence from shop owners and customers suggests that many Americans are stocking up on firearms and ammunition, as well as canned goods and toilet paper.
The online ammunition retailer, Ammo.com, reported that sales were reportedly up almost 70 percent between February 23rd and March 4th, while one gun shop owner in Smyrna, Georgia said he’s moving five-times more ammunition than normal. A store in Meridian, Idaho even started putting limits on ammo sales and told prospective buyers they couldn’t purchase more than two handguns per day, or more than one AR- or AK-platform rifle per day.
While it’s possible, if not likely, that the events of the past week — a plunging stock market, mass event cancellations and photos of empty grocery store shelves — have contributed to a new sales spike, gun sales and background checks were reportedly up this year already. There were 5.5 million background checks conducted in January and February, per the FBI, and while gun sales tend to rise in election years, the 350,000 guns sold so far in 2020 is far ahead of the tally at this point back in 2016.
“Worst day on the stock market since 1987 and shelves getting bare apparently have got everyone’s attention,” said Ed Turner, owner of Ed’s Public Safety in Stockbridge, Georgia. “I’ve never seen it like this… This is self-preservation. This is panic. This is ‘I won’t be able to protect my family from the hordes and the walking dead.'”