By: Saraana Jamraj
At a time when businesses are forced to close due to COVID-19, some companies are thriving—primarily the gun industry.
In the U.S., country, gun and ammunition sales have spiked as high as 1,000 percent more than they were in pre-pandemic months.
Locally, gun and ammunition businesses are seeing similar boosts.
Moti, who declined to share his last name, is the owner of MASA Firearms, Inc. on Wiles Road in Coral Springs.
When asked for a comment, he said, “Write down that I’m so busy, I don’t even have time to talk to you. That’s how business is right now.”
Like many local gun shop owners, he’s seen the demand for guns and ammo dramatically increase.
“It’s insane, I would say [business has increased by] like 400 or 500 percent,” he said.
One shop in Coral Springs hasn’t just seen their income jump by the hundreds, but by thousands of percent, said The Big Bang owner, Isaac Bachar.
“People have been storming in the gun store and buying and buying and buying– lines are outside the door all day long,” said Bachar.
While he’s grateful for the clients, he worries that so many inexperienced people are coming in and buying out of fear.
He said hardly anyone has their concealed weapons permit, and even when they do, they cannot answer simple questions about gun use and safety.
Bachar has had to turn several people away, including several who couldn’t pass the background check.
“It’s crazy– people are scared to death,” said Bachar.
Another gun shop is facing another kind of dilemma– Richie’s Pawn & Guns in Tamarac is both a gun and pawnshop. Still, since only one of those is considered essential under an emergency order, they have closed, although they are still working with lawyers to see what can be done.
However, before a government-mandated closure, they were doing better than they had done in months.
“We had quite a bit of a boom two weeks beforehand,” said manager Tim Skehan, 34.
Skehan thinks gun shops are essential during times where the demand for guns is higher. Like Buchar, he considers the people who work at them the first line of defense—ensuring guns are purchased legally and don’t end up in the wrong hands.
He said that during the boom, he saw new customers, like older women, who don’t typically buy guns, suddenly coming in.
“I think people are scared. Something like this is unheard of in our lifetime, and people don’t know what to expect,” said Skehan, who added people want to protect their homes and families from things that might pop up as the economy worsens, such as lootings, robberies, and assaults.
However, gun safety and control advocates, such as Shannon Watts, founder of Mom Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, warn against the dangers of panic-buying guns amid a crisis.
“The NRA has spent decades selling a myth that more guns make us safer, but if that were true, the U.S. would be the safest nation on earth. Instead, we have a gun homicide rate that’s 25 times higher than the average of other developed nations,” she told Newsweek.
She also pointed out the presence of guns in a home increase the risks of suicide and domestic violence.
Still, the fear-driven buying does not seem to be letting up anytime soon.
- Saraana Selene Jamraj is a writer, activist, and a student pursuing her master's degree in mass communications at Florida International University.
She's currently the communications manager at The Salt Box in Parkland and has lived in Coral Springs since 2004.