Gun sales surging in SC, according to shop owners and FBI data

Gun sales surging in SC, according to shop owners and FBI data
A local gun shop owner told WIS the demand is straining national supply chains. (Source: WIS)

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - William Griffin, the owner of Griffin Co. Guns and Ammo in West Columbia, says demand for his products has spiked as of late.

He points to recent civil unrest and the election as factors that are driving gun sales.

“People are uneasy," he said. “They want to protect themselves, because they know, as the cliche says, you call the police they’re 30 minutes away. You don’t need them in 30 minutes, you need them now.”

He said the demand is straining national supply chains, and he’s had to back order roughly 40,000 rounds of ammo from various distributors.

“So many people are buying, so many people are stockpiling, the ammo is flying off the shelves," he said. “The manufacturers can’t make it fast enough to restock the shelves -- they bring in a couple of cases and it’s gone.”

He said he’s seeing a more diverse customer base in recent months, with more members of minority communities coming to the shop.

Griffin said he expects the demand to remain high until at least through the November election.

FBI data backs up that 2020 has been a busy year for gun shops.

The number of background checks does not directly correlate with gun sales (some purchases are denied) but it’s an indicator.

As of Aug. 31, the FBI has performed more background checks for would-be South Carolina gun owners in 2020 than in 2019 or 2018.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Through Aug. 31, 2020: 342,577
  • 2019: 328,221
  • 2018: 280,749

The FBI also keeps track of the top 10 highest days and weeks for background checks nationally.

The data shows 2020 contains five of the top 10 days (including #1) and 8 of the top 10 highest weeks (including #1 and #2).

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