The COVID-19 epidemic, coupled with fears of more restrictive firearms legislation has fueled increased sales of arms and ammunition, several retailers said this week. Buyers, they say, stock up while they can.
“We are seeing a big increase in sales,” said Ross Faulkner, owner of The Gun Dealer in McAdam, New Brunswick, which claims to be the largest gun store in Atlantic Canada. “When things get difficult, it’s certainly a sense of security, especially when you’re going through moments of uncertainty like we have right now.”
Faulkner added that people want to buy new hunting rifles and “basic” ammunition. The large gun sales, he said, are not only due to fears of coronaviruses, but also to concerns about the federal government’s crackdown on firearms.
Some stores said they did not notice any significant change in sales, a marked difference from many stores in the United States. Reports from the United States suggest that there has been an almost unprecedented increase in sales of firearms, particularly in the states hardest hit by the virus.
As government tries to reassure Canadians that isolation and other measures to curb the spread of the virus will not affect supply chains, firearms and ammunition are one case particular. Retailers need import and export permits. Supplies, mainly from the United States and Europe, can take up to six months to arrive.
The result, said Wes Winkel, head of the Canadian Ammunition and Sporting Weapons Industry Association, was an “extreme surge” in sales across the country. This is due in part to concerns about the possibility of obtaining permits while government offices are closing, in addition to widespread fears about supply.
Winkel said that some people in more remote parts of Canada are concerned about food supply disruptions related to the coronavirus. As long as they have guns and ammunition, he said, they can still find their own food.
Nicolas Johnson, a Toronto-based gunner rights activist, said that a blog article he wrote in July 2018 on how to legally buy a handgun became his article on more read last week.
“In times of uncertainty, you focus on essentials like water, food and self-protection,” said Johnson. “It’s easy to imagine how things can get worse.”