Issues

Record-Setting Gun Sales Could Leave Stores Dry

Florida retailer: 'Everything was literally sold out'

Gun sales once again set a new record for the month of June, but some retailers are reporting that the rush on guns and ammunition has drained their stock nearly dry.

An analysis of background check numbers by industry analyst Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting released on Wednesday indicates that more than 2.3 million guns were sold in the United States during June. That's an increase of more than 145.3 percent over June 2019. It's also up from the 1.7 million estimated to have been sold in May, the 1.8 million in April, and just shy of the all-time monthly record of 2.5 million set back in March.

There have now been an estimated 8.3 million firearms sold in the United States since March—a record-setting pace likely to make 2020 the greatest year for gun sales in American history if the trend continues.

Gun and ammunition retailers are having trouble keeping up with the demand as Americans flood stores.

"Obama was the best gun sales in the country they claimed," Brandon Wexler, owner of Wex Gunworks in Delray Beach, Fla., told the Washington Free Beacon. "No, Covid19 is."

He said sales picked up in March and have continued strong since then, with new spikes appearing over the last month.

"Pretty much everything is out of stock," he said. "We have been doing it since the late '70s and have never seen literally no supply available. As of last week, at all major distributors you could not get any guns. Everything was literally sold out. Can’t even get hearing protection."

Rex McClanahan, president of Bud's Gun Shop, one of the largest online gun dealers in the country, said sales exploded in June. Even with his company's considerable reach, he is having trouble stocking the virtual shelves.

"Our sales were within just a few thousand dollars of doubling in June 2020 as compared to 2019," he told the Free Beacon. "Popular guns and ammo SKUs have been sold out for some time and now it is becoming a challenge to keep anything in stock that is among the higher demand categories … things like handguns, home defense shotguns, AR/MSRs and the associated ammo, particularly 9mm."

Windham Taylor, the outreach manager for Ammo.com, one of the largest ammunition dealers in America, said the company experienced the same strains as the gun dealers. Demand for popular self-defense rounds such as 9mm and 223 has kept the store scrambling to find stock to keep their customers supplied.

"Things are not slowing down in the ammo world at all," Taylor told the Free Beacon. "Sales have continued to soar throughout June despite major shortages from nearly all suppliers due to the sustained demand from our customers. We are working hard to keep up with demand and will continue to provide the best customer support possible."

Jurgen Brauer, chief economist for Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting, noted in a statement that the demand for handguns was again the main driver of gun sales in the country—a reversal from just a few years ago which he believes may signal a shift in gun buying as mainly motivated by a desire for self-defense. He said the spike in sales during the first week of June, which the FBI identified as the second-busiest week in the history of their background check system, was "presumably related to the aftermath of the killing of Mr. George Floyd."

The group's gun-sales numbers are based on a review of the number of background checks processed through the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). That system processed more than 3.9 million checks in June, but millions of those are related to gun-carry permit checks or other non-sales. Brauer's group removes what it believes are non-sales from that count to get a more accurate measure of sales—though the count is still not perfect as NICS checks are not required on many private sales of used guns, and multiple guns can be bought during a single check.

Retailers are anxious to see supply catch up to demand, but they are not optimistic they'll be back to full stock anytime soon.

"Distributors and manufacturers are all struggling now, several months into this extremely high demand market," McClanahan said. "The current status of the supply chain is already overwhelmed with both no end to the current demand in sight … and a presidential election coming up in just four months."

"Something has to give because there are no guns at any distributors who we all buy from as FFL dealers," Wexler, who said he's currently operating at about 20 percent stock, told the Free Beacon.

But even as retailers struggle to fill new orders for their customers, all that demand has sent their businesses soaring as well.

"It’s going to be the best year the business has had, no doubt," he said.