US virus coronavirus gun sales
David Liu, right, owner of a gun store, takes an order from a customer in Arcadia, Calif. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
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In some states the spike in gun sales is being met with the expected slowdown in NICS background check processing. According to an employee at a gun store in Colorado – yes, I’m leaving his name out of this but he’s a friend of mine – their current delay on background checks is almost two full days with thousands of people waiting in the queue:

Colorado’s background checks system is experiencing massive delays. What usually takes five to ten minutes is now taking 1 day plus 23 hours [a number that’s steadily rising]. The queue is now over 3500 applicants.

Gun sales in Colorado go through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation Department of Public Safety Firearms InstaCheck Unit. They posted the following message to their website on March 16, 2020:

As you’re well aware, due to the extreme volume of firearms background checks being requested, CBI InstaCheck is experiencing longer than normal wait times. The CBI InstaCheck Unit appreciates your patience as technicians process requests as quickly as possible.

Other states, like Nevada, are experiencing delays that aren’t quite as dramatic. Nevada’s checks go directly to the Nevada Department of Public Safety which searches state and federal databases (including NICS).

Gun writer Mike Searson, who has a great piece up on Recoil about current sales trends, told me there was a six hour delay in Nevada background checks as of 4 PM local time.

People wait in a line to enter a gun store in Culver City, Calif., Sunday, March 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

And then there are spots like Wisconsin. Scott Schoenherr, owner of Bull’s Eye Sports Shop in Marshfield, Wisconsin said they’ve only experienced minor delays so far:

Slowdowns seem to be worse certain days. What used to be ten minutes is now twenty minutes.

So while technically that’s a delay in Wisconsin, it’s just a minor one. That might be because if you’re in the Dairy State buying a handgun your background check goes to the Wisconsin DOJ Firearms Unit. Long guns go directly to NICS. Looks like Wisconsin is the place to be for getting background checks handled in a timely manner right now.

Here in Texas things are ticking on pretty much as usual as far as how long background checks for gun sales take (at least at the gun stores I’ve spoken with).

Washington State must be mentioned here. As their restrictions have tightened and they become more more California-esque, they started sending background checks to local LE agencies.

Originally LE was given ten days to complete checks which is already a ridiculous amount of time, but now I’m told the wait has stretched to a best-case scenario of 3 weeks. By the time those people get their guns, either the worst will have passed or the worst will just be getting here and buyers won’t be able to go to their local gun store to pick it up.

Moral of the story? Yes, you should have bought sooner. At the same time, it’s great to see a spike in gun sales with all the first-time buyers. I hope all of those proud new gun owners value their gun rights and get the training to go with their new pew-pews. Hey, I can hope.


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  1. I stopped in an Academy (in semi rural Texas south of Dallas) for their shoe sale and happened to check the gun section as I normally do… strangely enough, it looked like a bare shelf where they normally have Glocks. Plenty of other pistols available and and their normal lack of selection for revolvers. They also seemed low on the popular auto pistol cartridges (9mm, .40, .45 ACP).

      • yeah, they do sort of remind me of the omni/ horizon. alot of plastic and fwd= striker fired.
        ugly boxy.

        • Like a Volvo; they’re boxy but they’re good. The best thing about a Glock is that they work harder than a Mexican wetback.

  2. Love to see new buyers. With more of them, maybe the laws will change in California and Washington. Do they know that the bad guys aren’t standing in any line?

    • I don’t have to stand in line either. I keep getting C&R emails with stuff that could be delivered to my door. :^)

      Plenty of ammo as they are available but not common rounds. Don’t NEED anything, but it might be worth the fun to just do it during this event. .

      • Hahaha, same here.
        Just ordered 2k rounds of 7.65×21 (30 Luger) online. Should be on my doorstep Friday or Saturday.
        Have a few “twin barrel” gun packages (9para/7.65para swap barrel) that need to be supported with ammo. A 1900 DWM Luger too, just because it’s 120 years old does NOT exclude it from “range duty”.

    • Victoria,

      Great point! The bad guys are not standing in line. I am going to use that.

  3. I bought a Canik TP9 Combat Elite on the 6th, and got my first delayed approval ever. Took about 5 minutes to get the approval.
    Utterly ridiculous..

  4. Four weeks ago there was a surge in .40 S& W ammo sales. That made me think as a prepper that many in the prepping community have bought up all those great deals on used .40 Cal guns (preppers tend to be frugal). I personally picked up two Kahr CW40s like new for $220 each. We were watching the news about the COVID spreading and started buying up the .40 in bulk (to go along with the 9MM and 5.56 we already have). Just an observation.

    • Had a recent talk with one of my employer’s top executives, broaching the subject of guns for the first time ever with him (he was the one who actually brought it up). He has a single .40-cal G22 which has remained in the closet forever, but he’s now brought it out and was dismayed to find that not only do you have to go through the BGC madness, there isn’t any available anyway because it’s all sold out. He has a few boxes, at least, and openly said he’s glad he has something in case this COVID panic gets really bad later on and he has to deal with someone trying to break into his house for food or TP. The topic of TP burglary would have been the stuff of funny jokes up until only a week ago, but now the heightened chances of desperation and theft has become a serious matter.

      As we preppers already know, the world can change in the blink of an eye. The panic buying started less than two weeks ago. TEOTWAWKI, as it were.

      • So true.
        I’ve heard it said that the average US resident is only a few major life events (in rapid succession) from becoming rather lawless.
        Pandemic, Divorce, death of loved one, forclosure, bankruptcy, loss of job, limited availability of food/supplies, major illness (cancer)……..the list goes on.
        Hit the “average Joe” with 3 or 4 of these in a short time period, and he would be a threat of “road rage” at a minimum.

      • Haz,

        Some goodness in that story: this executive has recognized:

        1. The need for protection.
        2. What the state has done to inhibit his ability to protect his family and himself.

        We’ll take sunshine wherever we can find it.

  5. CA’s BGC system has always been a mess, according to those I know who have gone through it recently. Before this COVID panic, regular ammo BGCs were taking 25 minutes, along with the necessary triplicate paperwork you have to sign.

    I stocked up long ago. Glad I’m not part of the lines today, but also glad to see the increased activity. The more people become personally aware of CA’s web of gun control, the better the chances of voting behaviors changing.

  6. Moral of the story? Yes, you should have bought sooner.

    No, the moral of the story is that seemingly innocuous government “regulation” of rights often results in total denial of those rights, as we see here.

    • U_C,

      “No, the moral of the story is that seemingly innocuous government “regulation” of rights often results in total denial of those rights, as we see here.”

      YES!! While we have to adapt our behaviors to government oppression, we must always keep our focus on that oppression. That is the root cause when we make mistakes like not shopping sooner.

  7. Buyers need to know what the retail seller/transfer FFL policies are when it comes to NICS delays.
    One local operation ignores the “3 days without a CLEAR NICS denial allows for legal transfer by FFL”.
    They will hold a gun for WEEKS until the “transfer approved” from NICS.
    Honest/law abiding, pro 2ndA citizens should NOT have their rights “held up” due to an incompetent beauracracy.
    The Texas gun store knows who they are, initials are GAG.
    I have my LTC, so the 4473 is not submitted for approval NICS approval (just filled out, signed, and filed), yet will NOT use GAG because of their retarded policy.

    • Most shops don’t release after 3 days. You’re immune from criminal prosecution but you’ll probably lose the civil case

  8. Over 5k in the queue in Colorado at the moment. They have stopped giving a time estimate.

  9. The Spokane, WA Police Chief said last night at city council that they have cut their staff from 4 to 2 because of CV19 and that Concealed Pistol license will take at least two extra weeks.

    Also a red flag decision in NE WA. A mental health counselor took away gun rights.

    “Judge Steve Dixon of Adams County said courts had long upheld the right of mental health counselors to detain a person for a 72 hour evaluation, so losing access to firearms for six months would not be any more restrictive.
    “A person is detained because he is an imminent danger to himself or others — if that person has access to firearms, he will be much more dangerous,” said Dixon, who was brought onboard after Stevens County Superior Court Judges Jessica Reeves and Patrick Monasmith declined to hear the case.
    Will Ferguson, special deputy prosecutor for Stevens County, said Dixon’s verdict will now be appealed, and the case could possibly be fast track ed directly to the Supreme Court. He said the legal dispute has broad implications because it deals with the authority of mental health counselors to strip away gun rights without a court hearing.”

    • So much for NE WA offering sanctuary cities for retirees. That visiting Judge buckled to the State’s attorney general and they both enjoyed screwing the pooch.

      • I do believe the 4 person headcount was referencing the office staff that processes CPL applications, and local background checks for gun purchases as mandated in I-1639.

        • You may be right on that. I was hoping Colville would have replied with his own clarification.

  10. Two days…. wonder if that’ll get them sued again.

    Last time the CBI screwed up I was in the “process” (since it took so long) of getting my wife a .308 bolt-gun. Took over a week for the BGC to clear. We actually went out of town to see her parents and came back during the time it was running. That was just prior to the mag restrictions/UBC etc.

    I doubt the CBI is doing anything other than tripping over it’s dick intentionally. Last time this happened the average BGC was a week right up until the NRA threatened to sue the CBI over it. The average time *magically* dropped to less than a day.

  11. And then there’s this. While sales of guns and ammo are surging, Cheaper Than Dirt is up to their price gouging practices again. They’ve done this in the past. By way of example gun shops in my area are selling 50 rounds of 9mm TulAmmo for just over $7. Cheaper Than Dirt is selling it for “their low price” (their words) of $34.81. I’ll let all of you decide whether you want to spend another dime with them.

    • It’s not ‘price gouging’.
      This is panic buying, and supply and demand are at work.
      And while I would boycott them, you can’t boycott a company you have never used, nor have never intended to use

    • “Cheaper Than Dirt” used the same tactics when Obama was President. I decided then and there to never patronize them.

    • Well, somebody obviously thought it was worth it to them … it’s out of stock as of early morning March 18th.

  12. I guess a lot of people plan on defending their toilet paper fortresses with unzeroed, untested firearms they are totally unfamiliar with.

    Stupid is as stupid does.

    • I’d say, rather, uninformed.

      If all you have to go by is what you see in TV and in the movies, you will never learn, for instance, some guns are picky about ammo.

  13. “Rights delayed, is Rights lost and infringed upon….!”
    (Re: Nothing will be a remedy. Until The Architects of these Draconian “laws and regulations” , the politicians, and the police that are involved in all facets of executing said “laws and regulations”. Start going to prison for 10 or more years, with fines and compensatory dispensation of NOT less than $250k per event is instituted…Any Law Enforcement officer that shoots and murders a citizen over the vague and UnConstitutional “RED FLAG LAWS”. Will receive automatic “Death Penalty” for their actions. Automatic 10 year prison term for executing a non-lethal event. No plea bargain. Includes THEIR chain of command…..

  14. As has been mentioned previously, by an elected thing not friendly to gun rights, Rights Delayed Are Rights Denied.

  15. I was in the mood for a divorce present Saturday, so I went down to my LGS in Colorado and found a pistol that struck my fancy. Couldn’t pick it up til Saturday. Finding ammo, especially self defense rounds, is tough, even online. SGAmmo had the Gold Dot I like, but I won’t see it for 3 weeks. Glad I’ve got enough stocked up, and a reloading press.

  16. Boom and bust cycle never stops these days. Feast or famine in the industry, both of which kill, unfortunately. Just a few weeks ago the dealers were all MAP on everything and had been for a long time, barely able to move most inventory and now there’s no inventory (until and if resupply shipments are made).
    To quote Thomas Paine, “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”

  17. I live in Washington, I bought a new bolt action rifle last week and the paperwork and transfer took 10 minutes. Walked out with it. No hassle. In my county, there is no approval from the Sheriff or Police chief needed.

    I also had coffee and talked with two local Police officers. Both stated that they will not enforce any Red flag law and they took it a step farther and refused to attend Red flag training. Both said that Red flag laws are unconstitutional and management can’t force them to enforce any unconstitutional law no matter what the Governor and State attorney general say. Both said that if the dept should fire them, they would pursue legal action.

  18. As of 03/17/2020 @1300 MST, CBI (Colorado check system) was over 3 days. Saturday afternoon submissions were still waiting on approval.

  19. Sadly, there are many out there buying, that truly shouldn’t be in possession of a firearm. Not that they are Felons, Addicts, Fugitives, or any of the other many reasons to be prohibited. No, the reason is; they don’t know squat about what they are buying. They are unknowledgeable and many will be a danger to themselves or others. This is why we need required education in our public schools. So people cannot grow up and be ignorant of how a firearm works, or how to use one, in an emergency.

    • True. Prior to purchasing my first gun today I went through safety training with a fried (retired cop) then 3 Saturdays in a row I had rented different guns at gun range to see what that is about. When I got it today I felt safe handling it.

  20. Just got my first handgun CZ P-10C. I was in and out within 15 min. No CCW. My friend in CA, at same time was purchasing in Ontario – 3 weeks wait.

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