ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — The numbers don’t lie. Gun sales and concealed carry permit numbers have both nearly doubled what they were this time last year.
SafeSide Tactical in Roanoke normally has a packed room on Tuesday nights for concealed carry classes. The room at the gun store and range seats around fifty, which does not comply with social distancing guidelines during the Coronavirus pandemic. Now, students are having to get everything done online, but that could be a good thing for sales.
“It’s on-demand,” said SafeSide Co-Owner, Mitchell Tyler. “You don’t have to wait for a certain sessions to start. You start it, you can do 30 minutes, take a break.”
Statewide numbers from Virginia State Police show in March of last year, there were 45,826 concealed carry permits given out. In 2020, it nearly doubled to 80,228. The same can be said for gun sales as well, and Tyler says it’s partially due to the pandemic.
“Folks are looking for an opportunity and thinking, for some of them, for the first time in their lives ‘How would I protect myself and my family?’ and firearms are one of the avenues that people are looking at,” he said.
We spoke with several customers off camera, and some were first-time shoppers, saying the pandemic prompted them to buy a firearm.
Tyler had a unique interaction with a customer just last week.
“He’s a retiree, worked a professional job his whole life, anti-gun his whole life, voted for politicians who were for gun control, and he was buying his first pistol… because he said ‘If someone breaks into my home, I don’t know who I’m going to call. I need to be able to handle this myself,'” Tyler said.
To clarify, gun stores aren’t an essential business, but Tyler says they’re allowed to keep their open status if they keep customers and staff to ten or less in the store.
Tyler also mentioned shipping times have also been affected during the pandemic but not in a good way, some guns taking weeks instead of days to make it to the store. Despite that, business seems to be holding up.
Already, April’s number of concealed carry permits given out, as of Apr. 20, is at 39,507 . April of 2019 totaled out at 32,663.
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