Coronavirus gun buying surge
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
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By Larry Keane

Firearm retailers are proving to be a critical touchpoint for community safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Final numbers for firearm sales are still pending, but by all accounts, firearm sales shattered patterns. Americans are concerned and they’re taking responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their loved ones.

This is where the critical link of the local retailers becomes clear. Local gun stores that have been packed recently are also where these gun buyers, many of them first-time owners, are learning about safe firearm ownership and storage in their homes.

Community Safety Experts

Many retailers are reporting, overwhelmingly, first-time buyers are crowding their gun counters. They’re full of questions and they’re learning that local gun store owners and employees are their community’s best resource for education and guidance on safe firearm handling, secure storage and proper usage.

For example, among the clamor of her packed store, Jane Havens, manager of Calamity Jane’s Firearms & Fine Shoes in Hudson Falls, N.Y., described the influx of customers at her store, “Safety is a necessity. The sales process revolves around making sure the firearm is a good fit, and then emphasizing proper handling and storage. The more we can educate new owners, the safer everyone will be. Our customers truly appreciate that.”

Havens also added she is voluntarily taking additional steps to ensure customer health safety too, by limiting in-store crowd size and following CDC health guidelines.

Safe firearm education and guidance provided by staff can make all the difference. NSSF has partnered with retailers to promote greater firearm safety through our Real Solutions initiative, including specific efforts like Project ChildSafe, Operation Secure Store and increased suicide prevention awareness. These efforts are having an undeniably significant impact. Gun owners have taken heed, practicing safe firearm handling and storage and passing on the knowledge to new owners as well.

Regarding first-time customers, Havens added, “Our calm, controlled presence and our focus on safety guidance helps to alleviate fear, establish confidence and restore peace of mind. We want to help make a fear-driven market safer by making it a confidence-driven market, and our new customers help make that distinction.”

Historic Safety Numbers

Continued safety efforts from firearm retailers and industry members are making a difference. The good news is that there is a record level of firearm ownership across the country, with more than 100 million law-abiding Americans now owning a gun. The more gratifying number however is that there was a record low number of unintentional firearm fatalities in the country last year.

In a recently released report containing the latest data from the National Safety Council, the 2018 Injury Facts Report showed there were 458 unintentional firearm fatalities – the lowest number on record since the data was first tracked in 1903.

“As an industry that prioritizes firearm safety, it is extremely good news to see this record decline in gun-related accidents,” said Joe Bartozzi, NSSF’s President and CEO. “It’s gratifying to know that our industry’s gun safety efforts, including our long-running Project ChildSafe firearm safety education program, are contributing to helping save lives.”

Each visit to a local gun store is an opportunity. Whether shopping for a new firearm or just picking up some targets or ammunition, it’s an opportunity to befriend a fellow customer, chat about shooting or practicing at the range or even providing a small safety tip they might not have heard before. Regardless, these important ongoing safety efforts have a meaningful impact on the entire gun-owning community.


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. Too many of the people that are panic-buying now will end up stashing their new firearms in the back of a closet.

    And if the SHTF again, they’ll wonder why they didn’t buy ammo.

    And then they’ll wonder why they don’t know how to use the gun they bought.

    And then I’ll wonder how these people manage to dress themselves each morning without written instructions in the form of cartoons.

    • Or, the next push once we get past this pandemic is to take their shiny new toy and get some training and range time.

  2. Firearms dealears are the “Community Firearms Safety Experts” because thes first time buyers don’t know (or pissed of the ones they knew) and haven’t been associated with gun owners BY CHOICE!

    Tell the to read the owners manual and google questions like, how to: Pick up your dogs crap.

    I’m not going to kiss the ass of the same people that have attempted and often succeed in trampling my 2A Rights. This is no different than considering to marry a woman who cheated on her husband.

    • Will Drider,

      This is no different than considering to marry a woman who cheated on her husband.

      But, but, but, it will be different this time! (Famous last words!)

      • When I first started taking people to the range in college every single one (25+ people) of them asked some variant of the same set of two questions:

        1) Can I buy a gun? (Note that they thought I was someone legally special.)

        2) What licenses do I need to buy this gun?

        When I explained that all they needed was to fill out a 4473, wait a few minutes, and be able to actually pay for the gun their heads practically exploded (in a good way).

        Here’s the truth:

        *We* reside in an echo-chamber. *We* think that everyone who doesn’t own a gun doesn’t own a gun because they’re stupid and unprepared. *We* put more stock in the antis message than most non-gun owners do. Most non-gun owners just don’t care about guns. They don’t spend all day listening to Shannon Watts bullshit and, in fact, the vast majority of them have never even heard about how *easy* it is to buy a gun. They automatically assume it must be harder than dealing with a car in terms of licensing and registration.

        For every person who believes in the gun-show loophole there’s another person who doesn’t own a gun because they think Illinois and Cali laws are standard across the country, that is to say, they believe it’s almost impossible to buy a gun so they don’t try. I’ve met dozens and dozens and dozens of these people in the last ~15 years and they all ask some variation on the two questions I’ve posted above.

  3. It’s a good set of points.

    The line “So this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause.” is what happens when you’re an unrepentant, unforgiving jerkoff who can’t grow the brand.

    If 10% of these people pick up the habit/get bit by the gun bug our numbers grow and probably grow rather significantly. How, exactly, is that a bad thing? Winning converts has been a problem for us, particularly in the suburbs and urban areas, for awhile. Yet plenty of people seem willing to tell the nubz to fuck off because they didn’t get with the program on some imaginary schedule.

    I sort of imagine a Church that doesn’t take new people because they didn’t find Jesus before a certain date. Seems pretty stupid and self-defeating to me.

    • I became proficient in computers and cars by the good grace of those who knew about the subjects, took the time and were patient and generous, been paying both those as well as firearm safety, training etc. ever since. Paying it forward can win hearts and minds. Many new owners may just be afraid to admit they drank the coolaid, and actually have a real interest, welcome them.

    • If you See a Newbie
      Show a Newbie

      My brother-in-law just bought his first pistol ever. I had him to our house to walk him through safe handling and field stripping. Tomorrow I am taking him to a quiet outdoor gun range. He will shoot my ammo in a 22lr caliber in order for him to understand “the basics” and work his way into the gun that he bought. We will spend as much time as he needs, because he knows that every single bullet comes with a lawyer attached (we don’t live in Chiraq).

  4. Some of these people that believed the ” you don’t need a gun” are learning. Hope they learn permanently about this issue and handle their new responsibility well.

  5. Law abiding firearm owners should know and understand clearly the penalities for firearm misuse, etc. Law enforcement does not accept excuses or apologies. One screwup and you may wind up in the cross bar hotel with herds of criminals.

  6. I predict a buyer’s market in the used gun business. Sccy’s and Hi Points galore. If things go well and this world event clears up.

  7. I can’t really fathom why any of us should give a rat’s ass what happen to all of these “panic buy” guns after the fact. Keep them, sell them, throw them in a drawer somewhere, so what?

    The main thing is, people who would never have purchased a gun are now purchasing them, and that in itself is something of a seismic shift. If these people turn in to avid 2A supporters, fine. Even if they don’t, however, they’ve still crossed something a line here. The next time the Demanding Moms show up, clutching pearls and spewing bullshit, are lot more people are going to say “Hey, wait a minute — Karen there is tallking about ME!”

    That’s where the victory (pyrrhic as it might be) really is. It’s in the mass change of attitude, not in what happens to all those guns in the long haul.

  8. ?Makes $140 to $180 every day online work and I got $16894 in one month web based acting from home.I am a day by day understudy and work basically one to a couple of hours in my extra time.Everybody will carry out that responsibility and monline akes additional money by just open this  

  9. There’s a positive lesson in here about taking personal responsibility. Not a bad thing to learn.

  10. Of course it is good that safety is being stressed in these ALIEN VAMPIRE ZOMBIE VIRUS APOCALYPSE stressed times.

    Just wondering though … isn’t safety a thing that is normally stressed anyway? As in all NOT-AN-ALIEN VAMPIRE ZOMBIE VIRUS APOCALYPSE times???

    Curious peoples need to know?


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