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 know that the COVID-19 virus has drastically changed everyone’s lives now and for the foreseeable future. In some industries, such as tourism and air travel, it has been crippling. However, other sectors, 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, mainly due to politics and talks of gun control. Yet, even with big runs on guns and ammo in the past, many gun shop owners and firearm manufacturers say that they have never seen anything like this. Besides the giant climb in demand, this is the first time there has been such a massive surge in business happening this quickly.
Firearms Receive Essential Services Designation
When the Corona Virus pandemic first hit, many businesses were forced to shut down to prevent the spread of the illness. Luckily, for gun shop owners and firearm enthusiasts, firearms businesses were deemed “essential” by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, even though thousands of other seemingly essential companies were considered “nonessential.”
Several of the other essential businesses included services such as grocery stores, hospitals, and pharmacies. Firearms suppliers and 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 undoubtedly created 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 massive 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 seems understandable with so much uncertainty about what tomorrow holds.
This giant surge has also been aided by, as many different analysts have agreed, the gun industry is primarily a domestic operation, with significant manufacturing and distribution still 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.
This country's firearms, parts, and accessories industry gets most of its raw materials from domestic sources. This robust infrastructure, scarce in an era of global supply chains, has isolated the gun industry during this time of cutbacks.
Increase in Demand
But why is there such an increased demand for firearms and ammo during strange times? Why would anybody be worried about buying a gun right now during a global health pandemic? There are many reasons that both firearm enthusiasts and brand-new gun owners alike are deciding to purchase first or additional guns and ammo.
The first is fear. There is plenty of fear in the typical American today. Fear for one’s safety and the safety of one’s family and loved ones. Personal liberties, especially as experts start advocating restricting freedoms due to growing concerns about 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 becomes a reality, they could feel safer or possibly protect themselves with a firearm.
Politics as Usual
Politics in the United States often influence our domestic gun sales, usually 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. 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 essential purchase because he was supposed 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 about a crackdown on firearms and their laws, which also causes gun and ammo sales to go up. Whatever the case, the firearms industry occasionally is no stranger to giant swings in demand, depending on real-world events that could affect people's ability to buy or own guns.
While many types of businesses have seen significant demand increases, products in the self-defense and home protection space have, by a fair margin, seen the most growth. The gun store shelves have been empty nationwide regardless of the type, whether handguns, semi-auto rifles, home defense shotguns, or ammunition boxes.
Plenty of 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, is focused on self-defense calibers, and works 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 had 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 international air travel is completely shut down for some down or extremely difficult times, 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 been shut down for some time in locations due to shelter-in-place orders or where groups of more than a few people are banned. While remaining open, others have been forced to implement social distancing practices and have taken other steps to comply with state rules and help mitigate the risk of virus transmission.
Even retailers 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 about the situation, with some happy with the opportunities to work with plenty of overtime to make even more money. At the same time, others 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 preventive health and safety measures while working overtime at total production to ship guns, ammo, and supplies to retailers as soon as possible. Even now, demand continues to outrun supply.
Many companies have taken to social media to reassure their customers, telling them they are doing everything possible to deal with the situation in the best possible way. But even with the reassurances, many customers have yet to determine when they will see many of the products they desire to catch 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 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 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 who can be welcomed into the world of firearms is welcome, as many who were previously against guns and supported more gun laws had their eyes opened to things they probably did not know much about.
Even as many Americans were struggling with the challenges that COVID-19 brought with it, many of them went out. They bought firearms, but it did not stop anti-gun movements and media outlets from trying their hardest to discourage it. Of course, United States senators and representatives against firearms also attempted to use the pandemic to push their agendas. But try as they might, we have seen 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 opportunities to help their communities. Otis Technology is a company that produces gun cleaning and maintenance products. Still, after being forced to lay off a significant portion of its employees due to the new orders and the virus, it teamed up with another company to start to produce hand sanitizer.
Versacarry, a holster company, put its engineers to work on figuring out how to quickly produce face masks and other protective equipment instead of their usual firearm projects. Even during this crazy demand and uncertain future, quality companies in this industry have stepped up and assisted 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 significantly impacted during the pandemic and health issues? In most people’s honest opinion, it is motivated by fear and uncertainty.
There are fears among the general population that crime will increase, especially as many felons are being released from prisons across the country, and some think the police departments are running thin on employees and support.
Is there anything good that has come out of this situation? There are plenty of good things that this pandemic has brought to light. There are a lot of potential positive impacts from COVID-19, such as people who have never owned a gun before now buying guns, and there is sure to be a portion of them that end up with a significant 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.
Plenty of uncertainty comes from not knowing what is going on in the future, whether a day from now or a month from now. Everyone in the country is stressed and uncertain about the future 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 well-being, although it is safe to say with a strong sense of confidence that our lives and the firearms industry have been changed forever.