I’m frankly astonished at the sudden, huge increase in demand for firearms and ammunition as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Gun shops are reporting land-office business, and ammunition vendors – even the largest online-only operations – are so swamped by sudden, massive orders that they’re running out of stock. Some sample headlines:
- Fears Over Coronavirus Pandemic Driving Up Gun Sales
- It’s not just toilet paper: People line up to buy guns, ammo over coronavirus concerns
- Coronavirus triggers massive spike in firearms and ammunition sales
- Crime Craze: People are Buying Guns in Preparation for Coronavirus Violence
It’s not just in a few states, either – it’s all across the country. Examples:
- Amid coronavirus crisis, massive demand for guns crashes Pennsylvania State Police background check system
- Colorado Gun Sales Up 100% in One Week
- Nevada Gun Background Checks Suffering Massive Delays & Huge Spike in Checks
- Guns and viruses: Why Michigan gun and ammo sales are exploding
I suppose there are a lot of people who’ve never given particular thought to their need for personal security. If one’s living in a low-crime area, with an effective law enforcement presence, it can be pushed low down on one’s list of priorities. In particular, areas that are politically more liberal than others tend to see this happen. However, let that comfortable routine be disrupted, and things change fast. I hear from friends in several large cities that their liberal acquaintances are suddenly asking for advice on what gun(s) to buy, and asking to borrow firearms while they endure mandatory waiting periods before they can take delivery of their own.
In one sense, I’m pleased to see more and more people “getting it” when it comes to personal security. A firearm is an almost indispensable “equalizer” when it comes to crime and violence. It makes the weakest individual a match for the strongest, most violent attacker. As Samuel Colt allegedly versified:
“Be not afraid of any man,
No matter what your size.
When danger threatens, call on me,
And I will equalize.”
He did, too, developing the first effective revolver. The history of successive models of Colt firearms (and their many competitors) during the 19th century bears out his claim.
In another sense, however, I’m concerned that too many purchasers will gain a false sense of security from the mere possession of a firearm. It doesn’t magically confer the ability to defend oneself, any more than the possession of a musical instrument makes one a musician, or the possession of a motor vehicle makes one a competent driver. Each tool – and that’s what they are – requires training and practice to master, and use effectively. I hope those buying guns now will also take the time and trouble to train with them, and keep in practice.
As for ammunition, those of us who’ve owned guns for a long time are well aware of so-called “ammo droughts” in the past (for example, in 2013). There’s another one brewing right now. My favorite ammo supplier has actually stopped taking new orders, because they’re so swamped with existing ones. They aren’t even going to try to replenish their inventory until they’ve caught up – and restocking may be harder than one thinks, because ammo inventories all over the country have been drastically depleted by the sudden buying frenzy. At our local gym, Miss D. reports that some anxious gun-owners have even mentioned phoning manufacturers directly, trying to find out what they’re doing to produce more good self-defense ammunition in a hurry, so that dealers will be able to get fresh stock. They haven’t learned anything for their comfort, of course . . .
A few years ago, I posted this image of one gun owner’s ammo stash.
That’s a comforting thing to have in reserve at times like this, when many other gun owners are frantically hunting for ammunition. I don’t have two cupboards full of the stuff, but I have more than enough for my short- to medium-term needs, thank you very much.
My only regret is that my recent sales of firearms, to cover medical bills, appear to have been a couple of months too soon. I could get a lot more for my guns today than I did in January! Come to think of it, I still have a few in my safe that I earmarked for sale, but didn’t dispose of at the time: a couple of shotguns, an AR-15, and a handgun or two. Time to put them on the market, I think, along with some of my ammunition that’s surplus to requirements.
EDITED TO ADD: I dropped in at my local firearms dealer this morning, to see how he was doing. He said, with a chuckle, that a few days ago he put a sign outside his business: “4 rolls of toilet paper, $500 – plus a free gun!” He says he had twenty customers before lunch that day, asking about the deal.