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A rush on firearms and ammunition apparently kicked off Friday after coronavirus-related announcements sent some consumers out to hoard ammo, not unlike the rush on toilet paper.

“My ammo sales are up 500% and gun sales probably 30%,” said David Stone, owner of Dong’s Guns, Ammo and Reloading. “The NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) line, where it used to take five minutes, now it’s taking 40 minutes to an hour just to get the operator.”

The story was similar at 2A Shooting Center on Admiral and at Sports World on 41st Street near Sheridan Road. Visits to the stores to talk to the vendors were necessary because it was so hard to get through on their phone lines.

Managers and owners at each store confirmed business picked up heavily on Friday, but the desire for consumers to stock up was not fully clear other than it was purely consumer-driven and likely due to coronavirus worries.

Customers who were not willing to be quoted or named said they needed to stock up anyway or were at a gun store because it was spring break and they had some time to practice shooting.

In an overheard conversation, customers joked that the coronavirus was just a good excuse to convince a spouse they needed to go buy a new gun.

John Friend and Andrew Robinson, who admired an AR-style rifle at Sports World, also said they would have been at the store anyway.

“Just shopping,” Friend said. “This is my favorite store.”

The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that several states hit hardest by the virus have seen a surge in gun and ammo sales and added that Oklahoma saw it, too.

No disruptions to manufacturing or supply chains are driving a need to buy now, the three local businesses confirmed.

But they also said the shopping was far greater than any typical spring-break boost.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense from (the supply) standpoint. We’re not banning ammo just like they’re not banning toilet paper,” said Jason Perryman, manager at 2A.

“Folks are hoarding some food, hoarding toilet paper, doing this, doing that, and they buy ammo because that way they can be sure, ‘hey, I can defend my family, I can defend what’s mine.’ ”

“Here in the Midwest I think we’re about a week behind the East Coast, West Coast where they’ve had more virus, more restrictions,” Perryman said. “It’s probably going to pick up even more.”

Stone said he sold $2,500 worth of ammunition to a trucker bound from the East Coast to Arizona because the man couldn’t find it elsewhere. People have called from Fayetteville, Arkansas, and told him they planned the four-hour round trip to purchase ammunition.

Stone said customers who saw empty shelves at larger stores like Bass Pro Shops and Academy hurried over to his store.

“They’re bigger, but they don’t react and restock like I do. I’m always ahead of the game because ammo doesn’t go bad on the shelf,” he said.

“The public causes the shortages, just like back in 2013 and 2014 when there was a big run on ammo, like .22 (caliber),” Stone said. “Everybody back then would ask, ‘Why doesn’t Winchester just make more?’ Well, the primary manufacturers — Winchester, Remington, Federal — have factories running seven days a week, 365 days a year at capacity. They can’t make more, and what they do make generally is plenty. Then you get a push like this, and it takes awhile for the pipe to fill back.”

Perryman likened the supply effect to a traffic jam and said the country is not going to run out of ammunition.

“You know when you get through it and drive along and there’s nothing that happened?” he said. “Somewhere up there someone at some point jammed on the brakes and it had a ripple effect 2 miles back and everyone gets stuck for a while. It just takes some time to sort itself out, but then there was really nothing big that caused it in the first place.”

Manager Chris Floyd at Sports World said customers expressed a sense of caution to him in a time that simply feels uncertain.

“People are just stocking up. It’s a lot of 9mm and .223 type (calibers) but it’s .22 (caliber) and even hunting rounds too, plus lots of guns,” he said. “People feel it’s just that it’s better to have it and not need it then to need it and not have it.”


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Kelly Bostian

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kelly.bostian

@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @KellyBostian

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