BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) —Florida has seen a record number of gun sales this year.
Shop owners say that it’s because of rising anxieties due to the pandemic and upcoming election.
“This year’s sales have been off the charts probably easily quadrupled normal sales,” said William Tucker, Jay’s Guns and Accessories manager. “Right now things have slowed down some, but we’re still easily at least double since last year at this same time frame.”
“Right now a lot of comments I’m hearing are because of the election and unknown and what will happen after the election as far as gun rights,” Tucker added.
Federal data shows firearm background checks this year in Florida have in some cases more than doubled compared with last year, spiking both at the height of the pandemic in march and the start of the nationwide social unrest after the death of George Floyd at the end of May.
“The uptick in sales started right before the governor decided he was going to close the state,” said Lothar Newsome, Enforcement Firearms store owner in Walton County. “And it has not slacked up since and I think it’s a lot to do with the COVID and people being scared of the riots that are all throughout the state and the United States.”
Newsome also said that uneasiness during an election year is not uncommon.
“Every election year that I’ve noticed that we’ve been open which has been the last three gun sales have went up,” he said.
But while one resident isn’t necessarily using his guns to protect himself during the pandemic, he is using them to pass the time.
“COVID’s taken away so much of our fun stuff to do, what better way to have a little fun and protect my home a the same time?” said Ashley McKnight of Panama City who bought his sixth gun on Thursday.
McKnight added that he’s seen friends and family buying more firearms and ammo for recreational purposes, but not necessarily out of fear.
The record sales numbers at the moment are causing a backlog of background checks, which McKnight said is also a reason he is seeing some of his friends rushing to purchase more firearms.
“One of my buddies it took him like a month and a half to get his [background check] back recently,” McKnight said. “It has some people worried so, they’re trying to get in line as early as possible before it starts getting too too long to get them [background checks] back.”
Usually, background checks take no longer than three days.