Coronavirus gun sales surge boom
Brian Xia, 44, picks up his gun at a gun store in Arcadia, Calif. Xia who is a first-time gun buyer, says he buys the gun for protecting himself and his family. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
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By Larry Keane

First, they came for hand sanitizer and bleach wipes. Then it was the toilet paper. Now, its guns and ammunition.

Americans are lining up at local gun shops taking stock of their safety concerns and stocking up on guns and ammunition. It’s showing that firearms continue to be a desired item and Americans are serious about providing for their safety – especially during times of uncertainty.

FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) told NSSF background check traffic saw a 300 percent increase on Monday, March 16, compared to the same day in 2019. Daily volumes are roughly double what they were a year ago.

Coupled with measures to protect health, including having state-run background check authorities working from home or possibly closing offices, this is testing the limits of NICS. That’s why NSSF and the FBI is alerting retailers that most checks will get an immediate determination (“proceed” or “deny”), although it might take longer to process a check due to the volume.

The “immediate” part will require some patience.  For checks that get a “delay” notification it’s important to keep in mind that NICS investigations might be slightly delayed and the three business days mandated by the Brady Act doesn’t include days when state offices are closed. FBI NICS has assured NSSF they are working overtime to clear the unprecedented backlog.

Long Lines

Over the weekend, an NSSF employee helped a friend decide on the right gun he wanted for home security and general recreational shooting. He decided on a shotgun. Problem was the model he wanted wasn’t available at his local firearms retailer. They were sold out there and their other location.

That retailer called a couple other retailers to see of the model was in stock in their stores. No luck. Checks with three distributors found they were out too. He ended up with a different make and model, not quite what he set out to buy. The ordeal, though, showed the wave of buying wasn’t just rumor.

coronavirus gun sales ammunition
(AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane)

The Tampa Bay Times reported background checks for gun sales in the Sunshine State were as much as 75 percent above average. Colorado sales doubled in the past week, with 14,604 background checks through the Colorado’s Bureau of Investigation. That’s put a strain on the background check system. The Truth About Guns reported delays in Colorado growing to nearly two days and in Washington State, which recently began conducting their own checks, as long as three weeks.

The New York Times, the Associated Press and LA Times were among dozens of news outlets running stories on the run on guns and ammunition. One Los Angeles-area doctor buying a firearm told a reporter, “I want to buy a handgun, I think they call it a Glock, but I’m not sure. I have a house and a family, and they’ll need protection if things get worse. The fear is that civil services will break down.”

If the doctor was planning on walking out with the gun, he’s bound for disappointment. After background checks and registration requirements, California law mandates he’s also got to wait 10 days to take possession of his new firearm. 

Ammunition sales are skyrocketing too. Bearing Arms’ Cam Edwards reported’s sales increased 276 percent from Feb. 23 through March 15.

Not So Easy

First time gun buyers are learning the gun control tropes of people being able to buy guns over the internet just isn’t true. Omaha Outdoors reported they were having to tell many Californians, despite what gun control politicians claim, they can’t sell and ship guns online. Those in even more restrictive states are learning the harsh realities that gun owners must endure to buy a gun and exercise rights.

  • In IllinoisMassachusettsHawaii and New Jersey, gun owners must get a firearms owner identification card. That’s not so simple when health concerns are causing government offices to shutter.
  • California requires a Firearms Safety Certificate to purchase a gun. Buying ammunition in California can only be done with its own background check.
  • Connecticut requires an owner to obtain a handgun eligibility certificate. Long guns in Connecticut require their own long gun eligibility certificate. Iowa requires a five-year permit to buy a handgun.
  • Maryland law requires a handgun qualification license. Those buying modern sporting rifles, or what the state defines “assault weapons” must obtain a Regulated Firearms Purchase.
  • Michigan law states anyone buying a handgun must have a valid handgun purchase license issued by local law enforcement or concealed carry license.
  • Nebraska buyers must have a handgun certificate or a concealed weapon permit to buy handguns.
  • New York has licensing requirements for handguns that require photographs and fingerprints and the state has six months to process the license.
  • North Carolina requires a permit to purchase from the county sheriff.
  • Rhode Islanders must complete a two-hour safety class to obtain a safety certificate from the state’s Department of Environmental Management.
  • Washingtonians must complete safety training within five years to buy semiautomatic rifles.
  • Those living in Washington, D.C., don’t have to get a license to buy, but the District’s registration requirements serve the same purpose as it must be completed and signed off before purchases can be made.

Gun sales were already trending higher before widespread health concerns. Since April 2019, each month of NSSF’s adjusted NICS Reports has been higher than the year previous. Much of that can be attributed to the near-constant hammering by gun control presidential candidates who have made threats of outright confiscation to Vice President Joe Biden’s threats to allow frivolous lawsuits against the firearm industry to send it into bankruptcy by overturning the bipartisan Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

The latest drive is showing Americans want to know they can provide for their own safety, especially when those vying to run the government vow to take that ability away.


Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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  1. The stores near me are packed. Many of the people in them are would be first time owners. One store near me is only allowing you to buy more than three boxes of ammo if you are buying gun. They are selling shotgun slugs for $2 a round. Prices are jacked up on everything.

  2. If someone doesn’t have a gun or ammo for their guns all I can say is “tough luck”. They should have thought about that before now. This reminds me of an old joke . “A liberal is just one mugging away from being a conservative.” Some of us have preparing for this kind of crap for awhile and you know what, it didn’t cost very much, just a few boxes of ammo every month and a gun or two every year and viola, your prepared. If you wait until you need it, it’s already too late.

    • Basic common sense tells us that everyone should have.

      1. At least a couple firearms and a few boxes of ammo to feed them
      2. A well stocked pantry with at least a couple weeks food
      3. A few thousand dollars emergency fund

      Frankly, everyone ought to have a lot more than that, but lacking these essentials is profoundly foolish.

      • About 3 weeks ago as I stood in Bass Pro with my newest hand gun, wife’s friend and her husband Said this is over blown isn’t it ? I replied well maybe but what if and I was cut off. “We don’t live on what if” We’ll now they can’t go to work do t have ammo don’t have food or first aid supplies Not sure about cash but I’d bet whatever they have is locked up in a bank that they won’t be able to access Anyway My point is. We crazies Who have the “what if” mentality we’re doing pretty well

    • Totally agree. After Sandy Hook and the Clinton run, I decided to maintain a base level of ammo and over the last couple of years with it being pretty cheap, I’m not worried. My view is that I should have at least 1,000 rounds for every caliber and a bunch more more .223/5.56 and 9mm. I also shoot a lot of .22LR and WMR and maintain a significant inventory of those calibers. Other revolver like 38SP and 357 a reasonable inventory. Like you said if you’re worried now you are too late and paying too much. There is also an adequate amount of 308 if it ever becomes necessary for long range targets.

  3. Good thing I’m all set. Imagine the timing that MI cpls can’t be used to skip NICS now. It’s been a long time since I bought a Handgun without CPL, I believe the leo pistol purchase permit is only for private sales without cpl, but it has been years since I bought anything new at the local store without my cpl.

    • Jeff the Griz,

      Chain stores in Michigan have been calling in NICS background checks for years even if you have a concealed carry license. Now that the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms has indicated that Michigan firearms retailers must get clearance from NICS before a commercial sale, that change only affects a few small local gun stores who would have still used your concealed carry license as proof that you have a clean criminal record.

      I have no idea how the recent change affects, if at all, private sales of handguns.

    • As of December 18, 2012, no purchase permit is required for purchases from a Class 1 FFL Dealer.

      So only a private sale requires purchase permit. Still don’t like it, but the Fudds in the 20s went with it.

    • Much more than that.

      Americans have voted with the only thing that really counts, THEIR WALLETS, for individual freedom and self determination time and time again.

      Panic favors the prepared.

      Come and get em Beto!

  4. Since Donald John Trump was elected POTUS firearms, firearm accessories and ammo have been at bargain prices. If you snoozed you loose. Absoulutely no excuse for not taking advantage of good deals while the good deals were available. For those who have no need or desire to stand in a dog eat dog line give yourselves a round of applause.

  5. Some of these guns will be sold at “buy backs” in a few years. “Dr. Glock” will probably want that icky killing machine out of his home as soon as things return to normal. Some will be permanent converts, but how many?

    How soon people (non TTAG readers) forget the threats of yesterday. In 2001, we are attacked by Islamic terrorists. In 2008, one would think that the Islamist were always our friends.

    • Don’t forget the imaginary boogeymen, named Y2K & 2012, they had panic buyers stocking up.

    • We’ll it depends on what the left media wants to focus on. COVID19 now, recession and later mass shootings I dont fault the dem voters for now buying guns and ammo, but those same folks better come correct when it’s time to vote and stop letting the lelf media tell them whay to do. Then well know of they truly woke up.

  6. Before the Virus- People are all Ban Guns, Grab them outta everyone hands, Background checks if you fart.
    After the Virus- People are lining up and clearing the stores, thinking the world is ending. IT”S NOT!, People arn’t collapsing like flies everywhere and calamity isn’t happening. Building are not burning or rioting and mass ransacking of businesses. You Think Someone will break down your door for toilet paper? *FACEPALM* CHILL OUT!

    Where are those Wives against guns now? in a toilet paper fort with bags of dried pasta. Oooooooo.

    • In 2-4 weeks people WILL be “collapsing like flies”. After that? The veneer of civilization is much thinner than in 1918.

    • “Someone will break down your door for toilet paper?”

      Of course not, that’s silly. Now for food, if their children are crying from hunger after couple of days of forced fasting? I can definitely see that happening.

  7. The TBT?
    If this data is correct, then it’s obviously a case of the “blind squirrel finding a nut”.
    A FL gun store owner I know well told me his stores saw a jump of OVER 400% in the past week.

    • Hey everyone, look, it’s the ‘man’ who negligently and illegally sneaks guns into Rangers’ games. But which is the bigger crime: sneaking guns into sports venues or being a fan of the contemptible Texas Rangers?

      • No crime at all retard.
        Being a legal gun owner in Texas, if the metal detector had found the firearm, I would have been instructed to secure it in my vehicle.
        Learn the law moron.

        • I’m confused and out of the loop, because it looks like you’re getting a lot of shit for not disarming when the government told you to, and for no good reason.

          Not sure who is on which side here.

        • “the law says you cannot take a gun into a no gun zone. just sayin’…”
          FYI, guns travel into “gun free” zones every day in America.
          Bad PEOPLE are the problem, not bad guns.
          Do have any idea what the chargeable offense is for having a firearm in a “no gun” zone in Texas?

        • “I’m confused and out of the loop, because it looks like you’re getting a lot of shit for not disarming when the government told you to, and for no good reason.

          Not sure who is on which side here.”

          Not much to understand.
          Capt. Queefcurtains is just an anti-gun trollfarm dweller, who likes to spend time harvesting info of responsible firearm owners, then attemps to use that info to show infrequent visitors to TTAG that gun owners are bad, and many need to be “red flagged”.
          It easy to spot them, most have a new username, or an alteration of another TTAG username.

      • States are different but in my state, if you have a concealed carry permit and no one stops you You can carry anywhere But if you were stopped by a metal detector or something then if they ask, you have to remove the firearm from the premises or be trespassed But it isn’t a crime On the other hand, if doing constitutional carry It can be a crime because you don’t have that stamp on your ID If you have a problem with a person carrying legally, if he happened to be between you and another gun pointing your direction You’d suck his dick in appreciation for his responsible carrying

  8. So, we welcome a surge of new firearms owners across the country. I wonder how many of them have actually put in any range time or scheduled any training. Unlikely they will be able to defend themselves without training and practice. Worse, they may hurt themselves or others. I hope they are purchasing insurance. And if the insurance does not provide a hotline (USCCA does), I hope they are identifying and meeting with an attorney whom they can call if they have to use that firearm defensively.

    I am glad to see our ranks swell; I hope they all behave responsibly.

    • Nonsense, people defend themselves with no real training everyday. It doesn’t take much skill to stick a gun in someone’s face and tell them to leave you the hell alone.
      Should they get training? Sure, why not. But I doubt all those little old ladies that successfully defended themselves had any real training.

      At this point, they’re lucky to even get a gun.

      • It’s not so much the presentation of the gun (though that can be a problem in some cases), but what happens after the trigger is pulled. That’s when the badges start to care about taking notes.

      • ” It doesn’t take much skill to stick a gun in someone’s face and tell them to leave you the hell alone ”

        No, it doesn’t. However, for someone who has never fired one to go out and buy a gun, and then just put it in the nightstand is at a serious disadvantage. I’m not suggesting everyone go out and sign up for a tactical gun course, tho it’s not a bad idea. But at least take the damn thing to the range and run a couple boxes of ammo through it just so, at the very least, they don’t freak out when they pull the trigger and it makes a loud noise. They need to get at least familiar enough with it to rack the slide and make sure the safety is off. Just some real basic shit, or else it’s all for nothing.

        • Of course they’re at a serious disadvantage, but it’s less of a disadvantage that NOT having a gun to stick in the face of an attacker, right?

          If you tell me you went to Gunsite or took MAG40 before you purchased a firearm, then I guess I can’t fault you. Otherwise, everyone has to start somewhere, and there’s something of a time pressure on these people at the moment. I want them to be armed and better-than-previously-able to protect themselves. If they feel the pinch of antigun laws in the process, well, I’ll enjoy a little schadenfreude, but I do want them coming away with a gun in the end.

      • Got it. You think guns are so intuitive that people know how to load and aim them with no instruction or practice at all. I’m sure everyone knows and follows gun safety rules since they’re instinctual. How many of those apocryphal little old ladies at least had their husband, child, friend, or parent show them a gun and how to use it at least once? I haven’t heard of long wait lists for classes or range time. Training doesn’t have to be done by a certified instructors. Dads and Moms have been teaching sons and daughters how to use guns for generations. Someone with no experience and a network of friends who don’t own guns (that they’ll admit to) are not going to be have someone to show them the basics. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be allowed to buy, but just having a tool doesn’t mean you can do something useful with it and won’t hurt someone unintentionally. Hopefully, they’ll at least read the manual or watch a few online videos.

  9. I hope this is a lesson for Virginians that allowed the gun grabbers to take control of the state government and pass a lot of anti-gun bills this year. The worst was put off until next year and I hope people have learned their lesson and oppose the gun grabbers.

    • Idiots usually don’t learn, otherwise they would read history books and they would already know better than allowing control freaks who claim they want what’s “best for you.”
      Sadly, a lot of the liberals, first-time gun buyers will be in favor of more gun control laws as soon as this virus craziness is over with.

  10. I won’t be buying any ammo or firearms because of this. If I need more, there will be plenty of both laying around on the ground.

  11. Haven’t seen a word about the load of new firearms owners that could change the voting percentage supporting/not supporting candidates on the 2A issues. How will this shift the projections and the stance of candidates now? will biden finally see the huge group to court? will this change the laws coming up on the ballots?

    • And what about the open border crowd that wanted to do away with patrol and enforcement? Oh and free health care for the world if they can make it here. Are people realizing how absolutely stupid that is now??

    • I was on the Faxon Firearms video podcast today and this was one of the topics discussed.

      In short, we will have a lot of brand new gun owners in this country when this is over. They will have had to jump through a lot of hoops they never knew were there in order to buy their guns. That’s not a good look for the sometimes byzantine regulatory system and the gun control crowd who’s always shouting that it’s too easy to get a gun.

      How — if at all — this affects future voting patterns is anyone’s guess, but it can only be a net positive, even if a small one, for the right to keep and bear arms.

      Will post the full podcast once it’s up and live.

    • There are not going to be any elections, doofus. All the candidates are far too old to survive Coronavirus (so are some of us). The world as we know it is over. For the survivors, life will be great. There will be no housing shortages, roads will be empty, resources will be plentiful. But getting past neighborhood security committee roadblocks might be tough. Gangs will control all activities. Nations might not emerge again for hundreds of years. There is a model for what is about to come. We call it the Dark Ages.

      • I think you may want to take it easy on that Walking Dead show or whatever it is you’ve been watching or playing.

      • It’s actually your Dark Basement.

        Turn off the telly and go outside to get some fresh air and sunshine. Better yet, make good use of the time and buy some TP. Then give me some.

      • It is estimated that the Spanish Flu in 1918-1919 lead to about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States. Yet we are still here, and still as civilized as we were then. Thirty years later, the world went through a convulsion of war, with an aftermath in the Soviet Union, leading to 60 to 100 million dead. Yet we are still here, and perhaps a bit more civilized than we were then. When you add in the fact that the world population has increased from about 2.5 billion in the early 1950s to nearly 8 billion today, one could surmise that we could suffer three times as many deaths (i.e., 180 to 300 million) and really have no long lasting impacts after the epidemic has ceased.

        Contrast this to the Dark Ages. No one will ever be able to tell with any level of certainty how many died in Europe from the Black Plague in the 14th Century, because so many died so fast that they were buried in mass graves all over the place, but estimates are 35 to 65% of the population of Europe perished. 35% of the current US population is 117 million people. Current estimates of the fatality rate of those infected (generally, specific age groups are much higher) is approximately 3%, and if we further assume that 100% of Americans are infected, about 10 million Americans could die. As big as those numbers are, a new Dark Age populated with warlords and the end of civilization as we know it they are not, especially when nearly 3 million Americans die from all causes every year.

    • If the stance of the candidates (basically Joe now) change, then people will see how bad the position was to begin with.

    • Shotgun Joe has turned into Senile Joe, his obvious confusion about where he is and what he is doing is clear. Some Democrats will vote for a senile old man hoping he will resign and let his VP take over fairly quickly, many won’t including most of those new gun owners, and that may save the Republic.

      For now, I am sitting tight and hoping to weather the storm while watching out for those I care about.

  12. Boy, I wonder what kind of $$ Dick’s would have added to their bottom line, if they weren’t such Dicks…removing all their guns just days before this all broke loose.
    Lost opportunity.

  13. This behavior reminds me of a severe blizzard/ice storm a few years ago. People ran to the store and bought everything in sight. Generators were the hot item. A few months later they could be had on the Interweb from less than 50% of original cost. I bought 2. After this is all over. Used (sic) firearms will flood the market. Most never having been fired. Sheeple never change only the stimulus of their stupidity changes. Maintain OP SEC and Be Safe Out There.

  14. The problems will come when all those people in lockdown slowly realise they HATE each other and go mad, or those who actually have Coronavirus realise their lives thus far have been utterly, vacuously pointless and go mad, and then all these mad people turn to meth, THEN we’ll have a problem. Then the people without guns will fill the sewage system with fluid and come a-knockin’ on your door for “Help Me!”, And your trigger finger will quickly get tired. Walking Dead for trues. NB: I can predict the future – I got out of the markets well ahead of time, and have all the firearms and ammunition I could ever need.

  15. I wonder how many of these new gun owners will end up as targets of theft from being improperly Stored? I doubt many of them are thinking about safes. I’m sure most of them aren’t considering how important it is to spent time practicing. Something that requires ammo. We might end up hearing about increases in accidental deaths by people not knowing how to handle their own firearm.

  16. I’m cool with what I got…if .gov wants to do a Katrina all bets are off. Peace out!

  17. Unless you are panic buying a firearm/ammunition cause you dont have one….wait a few weeks and prices will be back in the gutter once this media induced idiocy dies away. Your just throwing away money if you already have the means and feed for it. 2 cents….

    • I agree. Once the panic stops, all the gun shops will be overstocked. I figure this should be about the same time the gubmint sends me my $1000 check. First thing I’m going to do is cash it. Second thing I’m going to do is go buy that gun I’ve wanted for the last four months. It’s my patriotic duty to do all I can to support the economy.

    • I had planned to majorly stock up on (more) rifle ammunition around May or June this year to beat election buying.

      Last week, I was thinking that with the current panic there would be no cheap ammo available this summer
      Today I’m thinking the whole thing will blow over by then and we will be in the midst of recovery or the economy will be in such shambles I’ll be able to buy whatever I want. Either way I’m waiting even though my ammo spreadsheet is showing me “low.”

  18. I am sure a lot of law abiding Mexicans want guns as well, and Venezuelans, Colombians, Cubans, Haitians, Europeans, Africans…..Some of them used to have more rights regarding guns and self defense, but governments took them away for the general population’s “best interest” of course. The worst part is that in a democracy, the people have most of the time voted in favor of that, or at least they didn’t protest against it.
    If this virus crisis can open some eyes regarding freedom, preparedness, tyranny and manipulation of the mass, at least there is one positive effect. Folks who are self sufficient or who can at least survive a few weeks/months without freaking out, those who are not begging the UN and the government to save them from toilet paper depravation, have gained a lot of respect and admiration, and rightfully so.
    I have already learned a valuable lesson, and if I survive this one I am going to make some changes. Sure this thing may be blown out of proportion, the mainstream media and some leaders are absolutely disgusting, and too many folks are retarded, but even if this whole thing was an hoax as some believe, at least it’s a decent drill in order to assess your level of preparedness.
    Stay safe!

  19. Stores need to run a continuous loop of Old Joe Biden say “Hell yes I’m going to take away your “assault weapons” as customers wait in line.

  20. ‘Coronavirus Gun Sales Surge Demonstrates That Americans Want Firearms’

    …and even a greater demonstration of stupidity. What F’n morons, any lame ass excuse.

  21. Rhode Island doesn’t even offer the two hour class. You just walk into any gun store and take a simple 50 question test and you get a blue card a week later to buy a handgun. You can also take the test at the DEM and walk out with the blue card. You only need an ID to buy any rifle or shotgun and pick it up seven days later. Very simple process.

    • Dad, can I have the keys?…… Pleeeease?!?!?)! Pretty please?……
      Can I? Can I? Can I? I’m a big boy now! Can I have my constitutional rights, please?!?……

    • No, actually, a simple process is when you walk in the door, plunk down your cash, and walk out with the firearm of your choice. Anything else is a boot on your neck.

      • Indeed. The only thing “simple” about that process is your willingness to be a slave to it.

    • Try to implement this very simple process to some other constitutionally protected rights. 50 questions quiz before posting an article, or waiting period before visit to your church. Sounds good? How about a little literacy and civics test before casting a ballot? According to leftists, even voter’s ID requirements are racist and suppress voters. But all these loops to jump through before exercising a right that shall not be infringed is no big deal?

  22. Two months ago, these newbie first time byers were fully supporting ever gun control issue and their chosen anti-gun candidates. They would have gutted gun owners Rights danced with joy about gun/mag/ammo Bans. Now look at them: pathetic johnny come lately because they “finally realize” which side of the firearms debate matters more and where the truth is.

    I have no sympathy for their plight, won’t sell them a thing. Hell, If their last chosen gun grabber hitlery would have been elected, there might not have been a thing for them to buy. No, I don’t accept their “conversion” before the stroke of midnight as loyality to the Natural or 2A Rights. They need to earn it with a loud voice renouncing their former universal attempts to destroy OUR Liberties. Screw them, they got nothing coming!

  23. Business is good. When the SHTF. Everyone buys what they need. Food,water,gasoline,RX,first aid and yes TP. Things help the survive. There is always a big ticket item thrown in for good measure. Generator,Snowblower,Material to board up the windows. Occasionally We see firearms purchases. Nothing like is happening now. Before it was mainly POTG. Now it’s Fudds, Never Buyers and even Gun Grabbers. Fear has a way of opening people’s minds to the harsh realities of life. For the first time in many of these peoples lives they’re realizing. Their on there own and the cavalry may not come in time. Reality can be a real Bitch. Especially when it comes riding a Pale Horse.
    Iowa gun stores feel effects of coronavirus hoarding
    Maintain OP Sec and Keep Your Power Dry

  24. All I can tell you is I’m glad I don’t live in Vegas!

    Over 100,000 casino workers that live pay check to pay check out of work for 3-4 weeks or more.

    Arsenal or no arsenal, I’m glad I don’t live there!

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