RIDGELAND, S.C. (WTOC) - Toilet paper and groceries aren’t the only thing people are stocking up on as we continue to see coronavirus cases increase; firearms are also flying off the shelves.
“The coronavirus, I hate to say it, but it’s making me money," said Jack Switzer.
Switzer opened Blue Steel Weapons in Ridgeland almost a year. He said since the coronavirus pandemic really hit the United States, his sales are up about 75 percent.
That impact is not just in the Lowcountry, federal data analyzed by the New York Times shows that March 2020 was the second busiest month ever for gun sales in the U.S.
“People are scared, the way things are going," Switzer said from behind his counter. "I don’t blame them in a way.”
He said the biggest seller right now is handguns, and most of them are going to first-time owners.
Switzer also teaches concealed carry weapon classes, and tries to make sure customers leave with knowledge on how to safely use the gun.
Blue Steel Weapons hasn’t just seen a spike in sales of guns, they’re also having a hard time keeping ammo on the shelves.
“What’s happening is my vendors who I buy from- they’re having problems getting the components for the ammunition from the other people who they get it from to put it together," Switzer explains. Adding that his daughter, Sarah, "Tries mostly to get everything she can and she’s always looking on the internet looking for good deals.”
He added that the guns themselves are getting harder to get as well, and deliveries are slower to arrive right now.
Those who already own guns are still coming in to buy more, and stock up on ammunition.
Thomas Horrey, a Jasper County resident and long-time gun owner said for him, its about supporting local business, but he understands why people are choosing to buy a firearm now.
“A lot of people are uncertain about everything that’s going on, they’re looking for protection for their selves and their family and just trying to make sure that that they’re safe,” Horrey said.
Switzer agreed, it’s about a feeling of security for people, and the steady of influx of customers Friday afternoon would indicate it’s not slowing down anytime soon.
According to the FBI, they completed 3.7 million background checks last month- the most since record keeping began in 1998. To buy a gun through a Federal Firearms Licensee, you have to have a background check. Switzer said those results are taking longer to come back and be approved than usual as well.