SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Gun sales and background checks are at an all-time high during the coronavirus crisis.
Central Coast gun shop sales are soaring after a national dispute over whether gun access is critical amid the pandemic. Gun shop owners said the rise is from customers seeking protection during the uncertainty of this health emergency.
“People have been somewhat in panic mode for the last two weeks. And because of that, we have increased on guns, ammo and also on our pawn site for golden coins,” said Dead On Firearms All Pawn owner Herb Crowley.
Last week, the federal government gave their support, labeling gun shops “essential” businesses.
“We have never been through this, people are frightened of it and they are looking for some security in their own home and the first thing they think is can I keep my own home safe,” said retired law enforcement agent Papa Smurf Clyde George.
The federal decision has led to a national record for firearm background checks: 3.7 million for the month of March which is up one million from this same time last year.
“The normal background checks for the state of California have been around 1,500 to 2,500 firearms per day. About three weeks ago, that number doubled and then in a couple of days it tripled,” said Nipomo's Coastal Professional Services owner Robert Huguenard.
Crowley, says he's never had so many new customers at once.
“Let's say there is a shortage of food, a shortage of water of medicine. People want to make sure that if they do have that stuff they can actually protect it,” said Crowley.
Local gun shops say background checks are, of course, enforced. They also give safety tips and training recommendations for new gun owners.
“It gives people a peace of mind … that is the biggest thing they are looking for,” said George.
Crowley says supplies are diminishing due to manufacturing layoffs.
“A lot of the manufacturers are downsizing. They are letting people go so that they can stay away from the virus, so it's becoming harder to get ammunition and firearms,” said Crowley.
Though the uptick in sales has been significant, shop owners predict it will dwindle down in the coming weeks.