By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
While walking down the firearm and ammunition aisles at a number of stores, it may have become evident that the inventory is significantly less than usual. It leads one to wonder if the manufacturing or distribution of the supplies has been affected by the pandemic such as a lot of other goods have been, or if the prices have seen a significant increase.
Ben Long, owner B.F. Long & Co. has been in business for decades in Parsons where he sells firearms, ammunition, and many more items. Long stated that since the Coronavirus pandemic began, he has seen a significant increase in sales of both firearms and ammunition. “We are having a lot of trouble finding guns and ammunition,” he stated. Though prices are about the same from what he has experienced, “It’s just that they’re hard to get.”
The handguns have been more difficult to get than the long guns along with the automatic .223 rifles and their ammunition. “These high prices you’re hearing about is somebody gouging prices, and it does happen,” Long said. He said that earlier that day, an individual told him that he was on a website and 9 mm shells for over $70 per box, which is a cheaper brand than he has on the shelves for $15. “If someone is willing to pay for it, someone’s willing to collect it is the way I see it,” Long laughed.
While Long is capable of getting the typical hunting rifles including the .223 models, it is still problematic to get the ammunition. When he does have it in stock, customers are limited to two boxes per person. If there are items someone is wanting ordered in, he can place the orders though some are taking longer to receive and are being back ordered. When asked if he felt things would settle back into a normalcy, he said, “It will calm down eventually, but I don’t know when,” he concluded.
There are a couple individuals throughout the county who hold a Federal Firearms License, or FFL, which allows a person to import, make, transfer, or sell firearms as a business. For example, if someone wants to purchase a firearm online, the item will not be shipped to the buyer, but rather the FFL holder, who will then perform the background check on the buyer and allow the transfer of the firearm.
Adam Snyder, owner of Adam’s Guns, who received his license in 2012, shared his experience with doing firearm business during the pandemic. “It’s been like this twice since I’ve got my license where you can’t get firearms or ammunition,” he began. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the sale of handguns soared followed by ammunition, the AR-15, and 12 gauge shotguns. Snyder said he had read that several of the manufacturing companies were shut down during the outbreak due to the workers being deemed non-essential employees, which lead to an increase in demand but a decrease in supply.
Snyder gave an example, stating one location he typically orders ammunition from was able to get 1,000 rounds of 9 mm shells for around $185. Just recently, he saw the same box of ammunition sell for over $600. He noticed the issues beginning in December when the Governor of Virginia began announcing his desires to restrict gun ownership in that state, but noticed acceleration when the Coronavirus hit.
Internet sales are where a lot of Snyder’s business yields from which has increased the number of buyers and background checks he must perform. He also ordered enough parts to put together three AR-15 rifles which sold within hours of completion.
Reloading shells used to be an extremely popular practice, but due to the cost and time associated with the task, it seemed to phase out. With all the changes and demand increasing for ammunition, reloading has regained popularity, though finding the inventory to do so is now becoming a challenge as well.
The AR15 prices according to Snyder have also increased in price approximately $300 to $400. High capacity magazines were also difficult to come by for quite some time, however they are starting to make a return.
Dave Goff is also an FFL holder, who stated, “Yes, sales have definitely increased.” “The panic buying and hoarding has been really crazy, wholesale suppliers are pretty much depleted on everything,” he added. “It’s been that ways every time there’s a crisis, if people would buy as they normally would, let the manufacturers do their job, let the supply come back, it would be fine.”
Goff stated “Ammunition of just about any kind is probably the most difficult to find, concealed carry weapons and home defense weapons have been very scarce as well.” In addition, Goff has noticed a price increase, especially on the ammunition. “Unfortunately for us as consumers, they pretty much charge whatever they see fit.” “It’s like gas, groceries, and medicine,” he continued, “They know we’ll buy it.” Even though the demand has increased, the supply has not.
“I believe things will level out some,” Goff stated, though he believes prices will still be higher than before. “As we have seen with items in the past, it doesn’t take long for shelves to be cleared and prices to go up when they’re restocked.”
Goff has also noticed the desire of individuals to reload their own shots and people seeking those needed items to do so. “Powder and primers are hard to find as well, shipping and hazmat fees are high also” Goff stated, “If we turn off the major news networks on TV, and not be so easily influenced by everything they feed us, get back to the basics this country was based upon, we would be a lot better off as individuals, a community, and a nation.”