The Impact of COVID-19 on the Firearm Industry
Unless you have been living in a cave or your secret underground bunker for the last couple of months, you are well aware that the COVID-19 virus has drastically changed everyone’s lives right now and for the foreseeable future. Some industries, such as tourism and air travel, it has been crippling. However, other industries, such as food, medical, home products, and firearms have seen undocumented growth in sales and demand.
The firearm industry is no stranger to giant swings in product demand, especially due to things like politics and when there are talks of gun control. Yet, even with big runs on guns and ammo in the past, many gun shop owners and firearm manufacturers are saying that they have never seen anything like this before. Besides the giant climb in demand, there has never been such a huge surge in business happening this quickly before.
Firearms Receive Essential Services Designation
When the Corona Virus pandemic first hit, many types of businesses were essentially forced to shut down to prevent the spread of the illness. Luckily, for gun shop owners and firearm enthusiasts, firearms business were deemed as “essential” by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, even though thousands of other seemingly important businesses were considered “nonessential.”
Several of the other essential businesses included services such as grocery stores, hospitals, and pharmacies. Firearms suppliers, as well as everyone else, crossed their fingers and hoped they would slip into the chosen few to stay accessible during the pandemic. They did and did they ever! While this decision no doubt created plenty of contempt and received criticism from the anti-gun crowd, the right to purchase items necessary for security and safety prevailed.
Demand for Firearms Increases
This created an enormous overnight demand for guns, accessories, and ammo. The surge in demand came as a huge breath of fresh air for most gun and ammo companies, as the last few years have been heavily suppressed on the political front by both politicians and investors.
While most companies have seen the last 3 to 5 years’ gains instantly vanish in the value of their stocks, some firearm related companies such as Aero Precision, Anderson Manufacturing, and Odin Works have finally seen an increase in the value of their stock,
and it comes as some relief, due to their recent surge in sales and demand. Many financial analysts attribute not only the steady hold but increases in gun stock prices to nervous Americans buying and even potentially stockpiling guns and ammo during this national and world health emergency. Which to some seem understandable with so much uncertainty about what tomorrow holds.
This giant surge has also been aided by, as many different analysts have agreed, by the fact that the gun industry is mostly a domestic operation, with a significant amount of manufacturing and distribution still here in the United States. For example, the renowned AR 15, one of the most popular semi-automatic rifles in America, has almost every single model and variant made entirely right here in the United States and very few parts or accessories are imported.
The firearms, parts, and accessories industry in this country get most of its raw materials from domestic sources. This strong infrastructure, which is extremely rare in an era of global supply chains, has kept the gun industry nearly isolated during this time of cutbacks.
Increase in Demand
But why is there such an increase in demand for firearms and ammo during strange times such as this? Why would anybody be worried about buying a firearm right now during a global health pandemic? There are many reasons that both firearm enthusiasts and brand-new gun owners alike are deciding to buy a first or additional guns and ammo.
The first is fear. There is plenty of fear in the typical American today. Fear for one’s personal safety as well as the safety of one’s family and loved ones. Personal liberties, especially as experts start advocating restricting freedoms due to growing concerns of the spread of the virus. Not to mention the idea being proposed and supported by many politicians of an early release of potentially dangerous felons from prisons. Some believe, that if something like civil unrest become an actual reality, they could feel safer or possibly protect themselves with a firearm.
Politics as Usual
Politics in the United States often have an influence in our domestic gun sales, often when a political candidate is expected to win an election, gun sales spike or plummet. An example of this can be seen when former president Obama was perceived to be against gun rights; gun sales spiked. In fact, when Hillary Clinton was considered the front runner in the election, sales ran high, but as soon as Trump was elected and was thought to support gun rights, gun sales tanked, as it was not seen as an important purchase because he was thought to be a protector of gun rights.
Other Reasons for Gun Purchases
When mass shootings occur, there is also usually a wave of concerns among gun advocates as they worry of a crackdown on firearms and their laws, which also causes gun and ammo sales to go up. Whatever the case may be, the firearms industry is no stranger to giant swings in demand from time to time, depending on real world events that could affect people's ability to buy or own guns.
While many different types of businesses have seen great increases in demand, products in the self-defense and home protection space have, by a fair margin, seen the most increase. No matter the type, whether it be handguns, semi-auto rifles, home defense shotguns, or boxes of ammunition, the gun store shelves have been empty nationwide.
lenty of different ammunition manufacturers and distributors have reported record sales, many making changes, and working overtime to keep up. A few of them include:
●Federal Ammunition has reported an unprecedented demand and is focused on self-defense calibers with crews working 24/7.
●Sig Sauer Ammunition also reports an unprecedented demand and is focused on self-defense calibers and is working 24/7.
●Sports South Distribution has the most advanced shipping processes in the entire industry and usually does same-day shipping. Orders are now taking up to 10 days due to the crazy demand right now.
●Ammo.com said that 40 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun bullet sales have risen 645% recently, making them the most popular item sold on its website since the Corona Virus started making national headlines earlier this year.
Firearm dealers, wholesalers, distributors, and manufacturers all over the country are reporting similar circumstances and unprecedented demand. It has not, however, been all smooth sailing for the firearm industry.
Many shooting ranges were forced to close, and events such as competitive shooting gatherings across the country have been canceled or rescheduled. Because of international air travel being completely shut down for some down or extremely difficult, even the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been postponed until 2021, affecting many more competitive shooters. Even the NRA annual meeting in Nashville has been canceled.
In addition to events and gatherings, the firearms training segment has also been all but shut down for some time in locations due to shelter in place orders, or where gatherings of more than a few people are banned. Others, while remaining open, have been forced to implement social distancing practices and have taken other steps to be in compliance with state rules and to help mitigate the risk of virus transmission.
Even retailers, who are enjoying record sales, must now deal with the challenges of depleted inventory, long lines of customers, and enforcing social distancing mandates. There is also the challenge due to employee illness from the usual flu season, ongoing health concerns about exposure at work, more fatigue due to long hours and irregular shifts, and the overall stress about everything right now.
Many companies have reported the same problems, such as fewer employees showing up for work due to illnesses or precautions. Many employees have mixed feelings on the situations, with some that are happy with the opportunities of work with plenty of overtime to make even more money, while there are others that are scared or cautious of coming to work out of fear of exposure. Many companies are doing the best they can to juggle employee staffing with the increased demand from customers.
Firearm-related companies are still focused on implementing precautionary health and safety measures while working overtime at full production in order to ship guns, ammo, and supplies to retailers as soon as they can. Even now, demand continues to outrun the supply.
Many companies have taken to social media to reassure their customers, telling them that they are doing everything possible to deal with the situation in the best possible way. But even with the reassurances, many customers have no idea when they will see many of the products they desire catch back up with the demand.
In addition to ammunition and gun sales to existing owners, there has been a nationwide spike in first-time gun buyers who seem to be motivated by ignorance and hysterical virus-related fears. According to FBI reports, the first week of March saw one of the highest numbers of firearm background checks on record. This was even before the full impact of the virus on the United States, and numbers have only been climbing since then. For example, the state of Florida reported a 400 percent spike in gun sale background checks when compared to the same time frame as last year. In Wisconsin, background checks were more than five times the daily average than that of what they are used to.
New Buyers in the Market
Having so many new time gun buyers and owners is a huge win for the firearms industry. We have never seen so many new shooters come into the world of guns in such a large number in such a short amount of time, and there are sure to be plenty of them that will be here to stay.
Anyone that can be welcomed into the world of firearms is welcome, as many that were previously against guns and supported more gun laws had their eyes opened to things that they probably did not know a lot about.
Even as many Americans were struggling with the challenges that the COVID-19 brought with it, many of which went out and bought firearms, it did not stop anti-gun movements and media outlets from trying their hardest to discourage it. Of course, United States senators and representatives that are against firearms tried to use the pandemic to push their agendas as well. But try as they might, we have been seeing record numbers of gun sales and Americans are buying guns left and right.
But even with the increased demand and unprecedented challenges, many companies in the firearm industry have taken the challenges head-on, and many have even stepped up to help the fight against the virus and lack of supplies. For example, after one of Remington’s manufacturing plants was forced to shut down, the company offered the facility as a place to produce respirators and other medical supplies.
Other companies have done the same, turning potential problems into the opportunity to help their communities. Otis Technology is a company that produces gun cleaning and maintenance products, but after being forced to lay off a large portion of its employees due to the new orders and the virus, teamed up with another company to start to produce hand sanitizer.
Versacarry, a holster company, put its own team of engineers to work on figuring out how to easily produce face masks and other protective equipment instead of their usual firearm projects. Even during this time of crazy demand and uncertain futures, quality companies in this industry have stepped up and provided assistance because they were willing to help get the country moving again.
A Look at the Future
So why exactly is all of this happening? Why has the firearms industry been so greatly impacted during this time of a pandemic and health issues? In most people’s honest opinion, it is motivated by things such as fear and uncertainty.
There are fears among the general population that there will be increases in crime, especially as many felons are being released from prisons across the country and the police departments are thought by some to be running thin on employees and support.
Is there anything good that has come out of this situation? Some might say that there are plenty of good things that this pandemic has brought to light. There are a lot of potential positive impacts from the COVID-19, such as people who have never owned a gun before are now buying guns, and there are sure to be a portion of them that end up with a big interest in firearms in general.
Along with people like this, others that might be living in states with very restrictive gun laws have quickly found out that you cannot just order a gun from the internet, or go to a gun store and buy one without a background check. Many of these people are sure to view gun control laws very differently now moving forward.
There is plenty of uncertainty that comes from not knowing what is going in the future, whether that is a day from now or a month from now. Everyone in the country is stressed right now, and uncertain about what the future might hold after these strange and unprecedented times.
No one can predict when all of this will end, or even how it will all end. There is no telling what kind of lasting effects this will have on our health and financial wellbeing, although it is safe to say with a strong sense of confidence that our lives, as well as the firearms industry, have been changed forever.