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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By Larry Keane

The firearm industry is open for business. With exceptions of trouble spots in a couple of states, the hard work is paying off. Americans, many for the first time, are buying firearms in record numbers, manufacturers are keeping pace with production, distribution is working overtime backfill empty shelves and doors at retailers are swinging wide with the steady flow of business.

This is what the National Shooting Sports Foundation does. As the trade association for the firearm and ammunition industry, this organization helps keep member companies in business. That was tested in recent weeks.

Government authorities issued a series of emergency orders, limiting commerce and even shutting entire industries down in an attempt to safeguard public health and limit the spread of the COVD-19 infection. All but essential businesses were affected.

Keeping the Doors Open

NSSF got to work. The Government Affairs team – both federal and state affairs – worked nonstop to secure an “essential” listing of firearm retailers, ranges, manufacturers and distributors.

NSSF reached out to both the White House and the Department of Homeland Security to get the industry listed as essential, critical infrastructure. At the same time, NSSF’s efforts in statehouses showed results. Illinois Gov. J.B. Priztker, no stranger to gun control, was among the first to explicitly list firearm businesses as essential.

The reason is simple. The military relies on domestic commercial manufacturers for small arms and ammunition. Police departments are supplied with their needs primarily through local retailers. Most evident, though, was the 2.3 million firearm-related background checks conducted by the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System in March. It was a banner month, surpassing any on record.

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

It’s at the local firearm retailer’s gun counter where the right to keep and bear arms becomes a reality. Americans can’t exercise their Second Amendment rights if they can’t lawfully acquire firearms. Creator-endowed rights existed before this pandemic, exist now and will exist long after. There is nothing more essential than the ability to provide self-defense and security for loved ones. That’s why NSSF fought for this inclusion.

That hasn’t happened without challenges, even in gun-friendly states. With member support, NSSF succeeded in keeping businesses operational in over 20 states that enacted stay-at-home orders, as well as several towns and cities that have implemented stay-at-home orders even though their states have not.

NSSF has worked to quickly alert its members of new threats to our industry, providing real-time updates as federal, state and local orders are issued and working to provide reliable, clear research and analysis to members so they can make better business decisions, even in these uncertain times.

Members Take Notice

Most rewarding, though, are the messages of encouragement sent from industry leaders.

“I think it’s phenomenal what NSSF has been doing through these unprecedented times and working with our current administration to keep our industry open,” said Scott Volquartsen, President, Volquartsen Firearms.

“On behalf of all of us at RSR, we greatly appreciate what you and your team are doing in support of our industry,” added JoAnn Weisenford, President & CEO, RSR Group, Inc.

Even in the wide-open spaces of Wyoming where Adam Weatherby, CEO of Weatherby, Inc., moved his manufacturing company, the work to keep the firearm and ammunition industry open for business didn’t go unnoticed.

“I have been overly impressed with NSSF’s involvement recently on behalf of our industry,” Weatherby said. “Keep up the great work.  I appreciate all you are doing for the industry during this difficult time.”

None of this is achieved in a vacuum. NSSF relies on a tremendous team. That team relies on support from tremendous members. Together, this industry will continue to serve the needs of all law-abiding gun owners, and those new gun owners to come.


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. Visited my favorite LGS yesterday. The owner said that he is having a hard time getting products from the distributors / manufacturers. They are either sold out or so backlogged that it is taking weeks where it used to take a couple of days. The good news is that, contrary to some uneducated opinions, the BATFe is on the job approving Form 1’s and Form 4’s. Saw several people in to pickup their approved paperwork….hmmmm, stimulus check is on the way – what better way to spend my doubly taxed “stimulus” than at a small local business?

    • Our LGS is having the same problem, orders are 2-3 weeks behind in shipping. Our shelves and racks are starting to look bare, the worst part is we are having to pay up front for product we may get in three weeks. And with the self quarantining, our range is very slow.
      It looks to be a long dry summer.

      • Our guys seem to be focusing on the Ruger carbines, shockwaves and whatever vaguely compliant AR they can scrounge up. And each biweekly (rough average) delivery is sold out within the week with individual appointment processing. Working harder than most anyone upstate at the moment.

  2. Again, I think I remember an article a few weeks ago on this site where the NSSF was no friend of the individual shooter. They only cared about the big industry insiders, government contracts, etc. Now their my best friend? Please, make up my mind.

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