(NEW YORK) — At gun stores from California to New York, the American people are stocking up in enormous numbers, almost as if the end was near.
“Trying to buy ammunition because of everything that’s going on with the virus and stuff, it’s horrible and I don’t want to take any chances,” Angel Colon told ABC News affiliate WPVI-TV in Spanish.
People are arming themselves. They are lining up outside gun stores. Or going online. In February, the internet retailer ammo.com reported a 309% increase in revenue and a 222% surge in transactions. The group is calling the sales “unprecedented.”
The increased gun sales come as police departments are being forced to pare down operations due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Some police Departments are responding to only calls that involve emergencies – calls like fender benders and lost items are being handled over the phone or people are required to go and give a statement at the police station.
National figures on gun sales that are monitored by the FBI will not be available until early April. But the anecdotal evidence is hard to miss.
In Virginia, where the State Police track background check numbers, there was an 86% increase in requests in January compared to January of 2019. Authorities attribute some of that uptick to Virginia’s lobby day – when gun enthusiasts descended on Richmond in opposition to proposed new restrictions. But the trend continued in February, when over 64,000 buyers underwent checks, compared to 39,300 the previous February. And in March, Virginia saw 35,383 background checks conducted, which is just 10,000 background checks than the entire month of March 2019.
In Colorado, more than 14,000 background checks for firearms transfers have been received in the last week, compared to about 7,000 checks conducted in the same timeframe last year, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation said in a statement on Tuesday.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.