Gun sales are spiking nationwide and in New Hampshire, the number of background checks are up 100 percent from this time last year.
It’s so busy at Next Level Firearms in Salem, New Hampshire, we couldn’t get through the interview with owner Brian Barry without the phone ringing off the hook.
“We’re up about 60 percent" in the last three weeks, Barry explained.
The majority of that business, he said, is coming from first-time buyers concerned about the economic implications of the coronavirus outbreak -- New Hampshire reported 415 cases and four deaths on Thursday -- and also the strain it’s putting on first responders.
“Ultimately, people are starting to realize they’re their own first responder,” Barry said.
But gun safety advocates are pushing back after the Trump administration deemed gun stores essential businesses that should stay open during the pandemic.
“While there is much we don’t know about COVID-19, this much is clear: guns don’t make you safer from it. Because despite what the NRA would like you to believe, you can’t shoot a virus," Everytown for Gun Safety President John Feinblatt said in a statement.
Gun collector and firearms enthusiast Chris Pascal, a Salem resident at Next Level Firearms Wednesday, said he’s worried about beginners making rash decisions about getting a weapon.
“I’m not saying don’t do it, I’m saying do your research and make sure you, yourself can handle it,” Pascal said.
Barry admitted he is seeing some customers acting on anxiety.
“If we see excitement or nervousness, we try to mitigate that right away,” he said.
He’s working hard to calm people’s nerves and educate them on the benefits of owning a gun.
“Don’t take it lightly,” Barry said. “If you are going to get a firearm, you have to train with it, it’s not something you get, put in a drawer, and forget about.”
State Police tell us in the month of March last year, there were about 5,600 processed background checks. In March of this year, that more than doubled to 11,900.
That’s proof that the spike happening at Next Level Firearms is happening across the state.
Barry says it’s important for people to realize there is no shortage of firearms right now. Because of social distancing efforts, there are fewer people working in factories, so he says it might just take a little longer to get a hold of the gun that’s right for you.