Uncertainty causing uptick in sale of guns, ammo

Justin and Tammy Bohn say they have seen a surge in sales of both guns and ammunition at their store, Sturgis Guns. Pioneer photo by Deb Holland

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STURGIS — Justin and Tammy Bohn of Sturgis Guns tried to shut and lock the door at closing time Saturday, but people just kept coming.

“It’s been this way all week,” Tammy Bohn said. “People are concerned with everything that is going on.”

What’s going on is that the COVID-19 outbreak is sweeping the country. People have an uncertainty about what’s ahead.

One reaction has been to buy up lots of toilet paper. Hoarding toilet paper is one thing, but stocking up on guns and ammo, is a whole other scenario.

Recent Gallup Polls indicate that the most common reason given for gun ownership is protection. It’s the same reason people put up security lights or own a big dog.

Kristi Hoffman, co-owner of Black Hills Ammunition in Rapid City with her husband, Jeff, said although they don’t do a lot of commercial business, they have seen a huge uptick in orders from their dealers.

She said the firearms industry is very much tied to world and domestic events.

“It’s not unusual. Panic buying happens,” Hoffman said. “Some people buy toilet paper, other people buy guns and ammo.”

Last week, ammunition website ammo.com said they saw a surge in the sales of bullets as COVID-19 started to spread across the country.

According to figures released by the company, the site had a 276% sales surge on March 10, the day the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. reached more than 1,000.

Hoffman said the last time she saw such a jump in gun buying was following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., in December of 2012, when 26 people were killed including 20 children.

“The firearms industry is very much tied to domestic and world events,” she said. “People have this fear of the unknown. They want to protect themselves.”

The Bohns said the uptick in their business began Monday, March 16. The same day, Tammy Bohn had a call from one of her gun company representatives alerting her to the panic buying in other locations across the country.

“He said there was a Las Vegas dealer that sold 600 guns in two days. They cleaned him out,” she said. “I think the cities are panicking more.”

People living in our area just want to be prepared, she said.

“People want to be prepared in case somebody wants to take something that they have,” Bohn said. 

She said one woman, thought to be in her 70s, came into the store looking for a gun at the urging of her son.

“Thank God she came here. Justin is really good at spending the time to educate first-time gun buyers,” Tammy Bohn said. 

They also are offering free Bibles (left over from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally) to their gun-buying customers.

“If you own a gun, you’d better be right with Jesus because you may take a life,” she said.

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