As the nationwide coronavirus pandemic continues, store shelves have been stripped bare – but it’s not just toilet paper and cleaning supplies.
Lake Havasu City gun stores have seen an influx of customers this week, and according to store owners, the majority of those customers are first-time buyers.
“Sales have been hectic this week,” said Against All Enemies Armory owner Patrick Baughman on Thursday. “I’d say 75% to 80% of customers this week have been first-time buyers. With what’s going on in the political spectrum, and people feeding off of concerns about the coronavirus, panic-buying is already happening.”
According to Baughman, inventories of ammunition in Havasu have run low, and shelves have been emptied as gun stores see growing popularity during the panic.
“Background checks are usually a same-day process,” Baughman said. “Normally you come in, buy a gun, fill out the paperwork, wait and walk out with a gun. Now, background checks are taking a minimum of two or three days, unless they have concealed-carry weapon permits.”
Baughman says the number of first-time buyers in his store has been unusual and concerning for him.
“It feels irregular,” Baughman said. “I’d encourage people to back up their new purchases with qualified training. Their safety is important to us, and we’d like to see our sales matched with weapons training and more concealed-carry permits.”
At London Bridge Firearms, employees are having trouble keeping up with the sudden increase in demand.
“We’ve seen a 220% increase in business over the past week,” said manager Scott Mitchell. “People are having underlying suspicions and doubts about the government’s response. People tell me that they don’t know what’s going to happen.”
According to Mitchell, about half of the customers at London Bridge Firearms this week have been first-time buyers.
“It’s a little frustrating, and a little disconcerting, having so many people buying a gun for the first time,” Mitchell said.
In response to the demand, Mitchell says London Bridge Firearms will offer free weapons training courses this Saturday at SARA Park shooting range for all London Bridge Firearms customers.
And with the passage of a $2 trillion stimulus package expected to finalized by the House of Representatives today, citizens could receive about $1,200 each in emergency tax refunds, Apex Firearms weapon safety instructor Jim Liesen expects a growing surge in new gun ownership.
“I expect a flurry of gun purchases as soon as the government gives away $1,200 checks,” Liesen said. “I’ve had several discussions that have started with, ‘How many guns and/or ammunition can I get if my budget is, say, $1,200 out the door.”