Gun Sales Are Surging — and Not Just Because of the Pandemic – OZY

Americans are buying guns like never before.

The demand for guns and ammunition in the United States is growing ahead of the November presidential election, driven by consumer concerns over protests and riots, as well as Americans viewing hunting as a socially distant pastime during the pandemic.

Mark Hanish, president of global sales and marketing for ammunition maker Ammo Inc. in Arizona, says the company has seen strong demand for bullets for semi-automatic handguns and the “modern sporting rifle” AR-15.

The growth has weighed on the capacity of some manufacturers. Olin Corp., owner of the Winchester brand, warns that the surge has reduced inventory and limited the ability to meet demand. Ammo Inc. is investing at least $ 2 million in expanding its manufacturing capacity to keep consumer demand high until at least the end of fiscal next March.

“In the past [election] Approaches, your traditional people who were already gun owners would buy more. These are brand new people, ”says Hanish, blaming the influx of new buyers to the pandemic clash, choice and concerns about“ unrest and uncertainty ”.

Ammo Inc. reported that sales in the three months ended June increased 125 percent to $ 9.7 million.

Ammunition isn’t the only company that sees a tip. Clarus Corp. recently announced that its ammunition brand Sierra posted sales growth of 36 percent in the US for the quarter and expects demand to continue to grow through 2021. The weapons manufacturer Sturm, Ruger & Co. recorded a 47 percent increase in sales of its products in the first half of 2020. Its website now warns that the demand for many of its products “the supply, especially in recent months, is far has exceeded ”.

Gun sales have risen over the past election years, but plummeted after Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory when consumers stopped worrying that a Democratic president might cut gun sales. Joe Biden, the 2020 Democratic nominee, said he would require background checks on all arms sales and ban the sale of assault weapons if elected.

However, the monthly figures from the National System for Immediate Criminal Background Checks show that the background checks required for new gun buyers have been well above the 2016 levels since March.

They hit a record this month as the coronavirus swept the US and forced lockdowns that cost millions of people their jobs. That record was quickly broken in June, the month that protests against racial justice peaked after George Floyd’s death by a white police officer.

According to Hanish, concerns about self-protection outweigh the fear of losing gun rights this year. As a result, he says, “I don’t expect people to become complacent again,” if Trump wins the November election.

However, according to executives, fears of civil unrest or sales restrictions aren’t the only factors driving the market. Vista Outdoor, owner of brands such as Bushnell riflescopes and federal ammunition, attributes its recent growth largely to the strength of the shooting sports market.

“We see that the stockpiling is taking place to a certain extent, but the free time has given people more opportunities to recreate themselves in real time,” said CEO Christopher Metz at a call for earnings on August 6, noting that fewer people have traveled vacations. Hunting licenses and membership numbers for shooting ranges also point to the growth potential of the shooting sports market, he said.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) surveyed retailers in July and found that gun sales rose 95 percent in the first half of 2020 and ammunition sales rose 139 percent over the same period in 2019. Around 40 percent of this year’s gun purchases were from first-time buyers, with the strongest growth coming from black men and women.

According to Jim Curcuruto, director of research for the NSSF, “there has never been a sustained surge in arms sales like we are doing now.”

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By Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson

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