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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Local gun shop inventories down ‘tremendously’ after surge of buyers post-Capitol storming

Handguns for sale are on display at Sharp Shooting Indoor Range and Gunshop in Spokane in 2018.  (Kathy Plonka)
Handguns for sale are on display at Sharp Shooting Indoor Range and Gunshop in Spokane in 2018. (Kathy Plonka)

In the days since a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Spokane-area gun shops say they’ve seen an uptick in sales during an already frenzied period for the firearm industry.

Sales have been “very brisk” for days at Sharp Shooting Indoor Range & Gun Shop on North Freya Way, said owner Robin Ball.

The shop is down to about half its normal inventory and the demand is leading to a shortage up the production chain, too. Ball said she can’t replenish much of her sold -out stock.

Sales have been up since the pandemic began, she said. Based on the buyers who mention their political affiliation, she’s noticing more liberal-leaning shoppers than years prior.

2020 was the strongest year on record for gun sales in America, with a nearly 60% increase from 2019, CNN reported. Gun stocks rose sharply in the aftermath of the storming of the Capitol by a mob attempting to stop President-elect Joe Biden from becoming president, according to USA Today.

Many were first-time buyers. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade group for the firearm industry, estimated in August that about 5 million Americans bought a firearm for the first time in their lives during the first eight months of 2020, calling it a “tectonic shift in the firearm and ammunition industry marketplace.”

“I really do not see riots at the Capitol impacting this traffic,” Ball said. “I think it’s social unrest across the country and most people are looking for some kind of home defense option.”

Ken Craudell, manager of the Double Eagle Pawn Shop on East Sprague Avenue, said there could be a few factors at play. Shoppers could be worried that Biden’s administration will crack down on gun control or stimulus checks could be freeing people up to shop.

He said he’s seen an uptick in gun buyers in the days since the Capitol riot, but high demand since the pandemic began has blurred days together.

“Our inventory is down tremendously,” Craudell said. “We’ve been continuously ramping up on sales, so even on a downturn it’s still busier than it should be. This whole year has been a roller coaster for gun sales. It’s up even when it’s on the way down.”

Craudell, Ball and other area gun shop owners saw more sales immediately after business closures began in Washington last March to curb the spread of COVID-19. It was “like Black Friday every day for about three months,” Craudell said.

Following that surge, shops saw a slight slowdown. Then sales ramped up again during last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests. Craudell attributes the uptick in the days since the Capitol insurgence to a general sense of instability in the country, especially surrounding censorship on social media.

“I haven’t heard people talking about (Donald) Trump or Kamala Harris and Biden, you just hear a lot of uncertainty,” Craudell said. “My two cents is most of our customers coming in are fearful of what’s going on in our government right now.”

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