Looking to add a 9mm gun to his collection Tuesday, Sept. 15, Keith Miller of Clermont also had his views on what may be driving a hot gun market nationwide.
“People are buying weapons now because they see (police officers) carrying guns and they are not respected and they are not safe -- so, what makes you think you and I are safe?” he said, while shopping at the Georgia Gun Store off John W. Morrow Jr. Parkway in Gainesville.
Media reports around the U.S. indicate gun sales have boomed throughout 2020, beginning with uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic. But then, sales spiked as civil unrest led to rioting and calls to "defund the police," which often, though not always, refers to a reallocation of resources rather than eliminating law enforcement departments. Gun rights and the Second Amendment also have been a huge election issue.
“Almost 3 million more firearms have been sold since March than would have ordinarily been sold,” states a July article by The Brookings Institution, a Washington D.C.-based public policy organization.
“We sold 12,000 guns last year. We’ve exceeded that,” said Kellie Weeks of Georgia Gun Store. Typically, “the biggest (sales period) is the last quarter. Christmas is our biggest time. Summer is our slowest time.”
The run on guns and ammunition has been brought about largely by first-time buyers, say local gun store owners.
Mike Weeks of Georgia Gun Store said in the past, he would normally try to talk novices out of buying a gun without first “getting some training, doing some shooting, doing whatever. But now, people are determined they are going to get a gun.”
“In times past, the surge in sales was by the concern over losing gun rights or some sort of curtailment over gun rights,” Mike Weeks added. “But now, people aren’t necessarily worried about their gun rights being taken away. They’re worried about protecting themselves. They worried about what happens when the cops are defunded.”
Jon Lipscomb, owner of The Foxhole Guns & Archery in Gainesville, had similar concerns about the industry.
“The supply chain has broken down. There is just not enough inventory,” he said. “And we don’t believe it will let up anytime soon. No matter which way the election goes, it’s going to be pretty hard to get products in this industry.”
And the issue over violence and gun rights is politically charged.
On Tuesday, Michael Caputo, the top spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, apologized for a video in which he reportedly predicted that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden would refuse to concede defeat to Trump in the election, and violence would break out.
Kellie Weeks said she worries that if Biden were to win, “he wants to take people’s guns.”
“That’s another thing that’s so sad now,” Miller said of the political climate. “People are afraid to disagree.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.