Pandemic, social unrest spark surge in gun, ammunition sales

FBI says background checks for gun sales hit new record in June

JACKSONVILLE, FLa. – Gun sales are through the roof right now.

Tyler Gilliam, general manager and owner of Southern Sportsman Outlet in Arlington, said it’s been a challenge getting inventory with it cycling out faster than usual.

“They’ve been more than expected. However, obviously, with the coronavirus and everybody being inside and being in fear of a lockdown, it definitely has increased sales,” Gilliam said.

The FBI said background checks for gun sales hit a new record in June. And Gilliam said those checks are taking longer in some cases.

“We’ve seen them come back in the same minute, and we’ve seen them take up to four to six hours,” Gilliam said.

More than 3.9 million background checks on gun sales were done in June -- the highest month on record. Adjusted to reflect only gun purchases, the number of checks for June was up nearly 136% over June 2019, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents gunmakers. That adjusted figure was 2.2 million, the group said.

This comes amid a global pandemic, racial unrest, and an upcoming election season.

Tom Verri, a former police officer and radio host on 102.1, where he talks about firearms, said nationwide events translate to people wanting to purchase guns.

“I think what we’re seeing now is a realization that there can be a breakdown in services,” Verri said. “They’re scared. And they want to be able to protect themselves if law enforcement is not available.”

Verri said people are realizing how violence can come into their communities, and he said movements to defund police departments encourage sales.

Gilliam said while there is an increase in sales, he is also seeing an increase in precautions by the new owners.

“Our concealed weapon classes are almost filled every single week that we do them,” Gilliam said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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