Gov. Jared Polis’ stay-at-home-order shut down many businesses and industries across the state, but not all. Gun stores remain open and are in fact posting booming sales.
According to the stay-at-home requirements, firearms stores are considered to be “critical retail.”
At Jerry’s Outdoor Sports on Wednesday, owner Jerry Stehman said that before the stay-at-home order was announced, his sales have been “going ballistic” for the last 12 days to 14 days.
“We’re seeing loyal customers, but we’re also seeing a real big increase of new customers,” he added. “There’s been a steady flow of waves of people.”
On Thursday morning, hours into the stay-at-home order, with empty parking lots outside of just about every business in the area, the guns and ammo store was filled with cars and customers, just as with toilet paper or bleach, they wanted to make sure they could get the gear they needed.
Rick Smith was one of the first customers at Jerry’s on Thursday as he left the store with several new boxes of ammunition.
“I just want to make sure (I) can get it,” he said.
Smith said he has a lot of family in populated areas who have reported empty shelves at their local gun stores.
According to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, background checks for firearms are up 227% in Colorado. CBI received 25,468 background checks for firearms transfers last week, compared to 7,773 received in the same timeframe last year, a press release sent out on Monday said. Spikes and delays in background checks for firearms transfers are reportedly occurring nationwide.
According to the CBI, a queue of 12,442 was reported on Monday with an average turnaround time of approximately four calendar days.
Stehman said background checks typically take around 10 to 15 minutes but in the past few weeks some have been pushing five days.
In his 35 years in the industry, he’s seen samples from other national tragedies and crises that have led to runs on guns on ammo, such as in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, but he’s never seen anything like this. “Once they get their background checks back, I’ve seen numerous people add another one, two, three or four firearms,” he said.
Stehman admitted he thinks some people are spooked.
“It’s not just fear, but fear of fear,” he said. “People who get desperate do desperate things.”
Not everyone buying guns or ammunition was rushing to hoard it.
Joseph Beghan said he and his wife haven’t done any panic buying this month and he was just picking up ammunition on Thursday as his supplies were running low.
“We’re doing what we are always doing,” he said.
He said if they didn’t get ammo at Jerry’s, he would’ve checked out other stores.
Over at the Rocky Mountain Gun Club, the ranges and classrooms were closed last week, but general manager Sabra Lin O’Crotty said there’s been a surge in firearm sales over the past two weeks, which she felt was mainly for personal protection.
On Thursday, RMGC posted onto Facebook that it would be modifying its hours and wanted to make sure that everyone was not only prepared, but safe. O’Crotty said they are thinking about how they can encourage training and gun safety classes at a time when everything is closed.
She wasn’t too concerned about possible inventory shortages or the background check delays, but she thinks it’s as important as ever to make sure everyone has all the gun safety training they need.
On Thursday, RMGC posted a two-minute instructional video on how to properly hold and store a gun, along with other tips.