Why are gun sales surging? Women driving spike as ammo shortage begins to bite

Nearly 5 million Americans bought their first weapons in 2020, a year that saw a high surge in purchase of weapons because of several factors


                            Why are gun sales surging? Women driving spike as ammo shortage begins to bite
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The year 2020 was big in terms of gun sales in the US even as the country continues to debate the control of weapons that take several thousands of lives in the country every year. Extraordinary circumstances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and anti-racism protests against the law-keepers saw this surge and according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), nearly five million Americans ended up buying their first weapons in the year that just went by. 

Action News Jax, Jacksonville, Florida, on Tuesday, January 26, reported that the first three weeks of 2021 have seen no difference in the guns-purchasing trend and some gun owners in the city have also said that it has become harder to get ammunition, thanks to the surge in the sales of weapons. And according to another report carried by Action News last November, women are making a big contribution to the rise in gun sales (more than 40 percent) and among them, African Americans are the majority.
 
As per a survey conducted by the NSSF, 40 percent of sales at various gun shops in 2020 were to first-time buyers.

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Store managers, customers worried over ammo shortage

Action News spoke to authorities at Greenacres Sporting Goods to understand what’s causing the shortage in ammo and it cited Zaideh Farhat, a retail sales manager at the store who is better known as “Z”, as saying that they are facing a real struggle in getting ammo for their customers. 

“We’ve been having to go out through other channels and basically bid on it. And buy it from different sources, buy it from private market, pay whatever the market is for it — plus shipping and to get it transferred here,” he was quoted as saying. Because of the growing scarcity, they also have to pay more for the ammo. “The store has been here for 50 years. I’ve been here over 20 years full time, and I’ve never seen it like this,” Farhat told Action News.

The gun owners are also equally upset. Wayne Griffis, an owner, conceded to Action News saying it is getting “tough” and “definitely scarce”.

He told Action News that one has to plan ahead to get ammunition nowadays. “You have to get up early — make sure you hit the stores. You have to know when they’re getting new shipments in,” Griffis said. He also acknowledged that the price of ammo has gone up. “Normally, let’s say before the shortage, you can get 9 mm range ammo for $17 a box. Now it’s going upwards of $70 a box. It’s absurd!” he said.

Speaking on the ammo getting expensive, Farhat added: “The most popular is pistol ammo, like 9mm and .380. We do have it in stock, but that’s what we’ve been having to pay the most for.” At Greenacres, they are now taking boxes of ammo for specific calibers and breaking them into smaller quantities to make them more affordable.

Among other factors that have caused this shortage in ammunition are manufacturers shutting down because of the pandemic and that a lot of raw material for the ammo comes from overseas -- a process which has also been hit by the Covid-19 scenario. Farhat said he hoped to see the situation improving once the pandemic condition turns for the better and the economy starts opening up. Griffis though was less hopeful about the situation changing any time soon.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris (Getty Images)

More women are buying guns

The NSSF has cited police response in times of the pandemic to the election cycle to the anticipation that the new administration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will call for stricter gun control to calls for defunding the police among other factors that caused the rise in gun sales in 2020. The reasons are no different when it comes to the rise in purchasing of guns among women -- seeking protection in times of pandemic, fear of stricter gun-control laws and rise in riots and protests in an election year. 

On the issue of why women buyers of guns have surged, Action News law and safety expert Dale Carson said in November: “The only time is only in self-defense if you are in fear that someone is going to really hurt you, the word imminent is right now.”

Roger Carlson, a former undersheriff and marine who owns Jacksonville Gun Runners that teaches how to run a gun, told the news outlet that more and more women have turned up to him as clients. People like Carlson are having a busy time teaching new buyers how to manage their weapons -- not to kill people but to defend themselves. Both Carson and Carlson suggest people looking to buy a gun to watch their anger, using verbal commands as first defense and resort to firing only if they believe their lives are in danger.