Gun Sales Rise Amidst Pandemic, Unrest


by Terry Rogers

 At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ron Hagan of American Responder Services saw a rise in gun sales at his store. He explained that the rise occurred soon after the state was locked down in an effort to contain the virus.

“When we were first dealing with the closures, we saw a significant increase in the sale of firearms,” Hagan said. “I am not really sure why there was such an increase then. I think it was because businesses were closing, and people were worried what would happen as others were out of work. In this area, people know the police have limited capabilities, so they are purchasing firearms to protect themselves and their family.”

Hagan explained that the surge in firearm purchases had begun to slow as the state began to reopen in late May but has, once again, increased due to the recent civil unrest after a Minneapolis man died while in police custody. The death has spurred protests around the world with some turning violent.

“With the death of Mr. Floyd and all the protests, we definitely have seen an increase in gun sales,” Hagan said. “Once the unrest came close to us, many people realized they need to be prepared should it come to their front door. Most of what I have seen purchased is self-defense weapons. Things like shotguns, rifles and larger handguns. A few people have been in for concealed carry weapons but not that many.”

When someone comes to his store to purchase a gun, they must fill out a federal form known as Form 4473. This form requires information like their name, address and birthdate. It also asks a series of questions which the staff at American Responder Services reviews to be sure the answers are appropriate. It is then electronically sent to the FBI who conducts a preliminary background check.

“We normally get back three responses,” Hagan said. “It is sort of a green light, yellow light, red light system. If it is green, the person pays for the weapon and leaves the store. That usually takes just a few minutes. However, this check only looks at a very small amount of information. Sometimes, we will get the yellow designation which means something was triggered in the FBI system. They do a manual review of the form and then let us know whether things are okay. It can be as simple as a similar name or address that triggers the yellow. Normally, even that takes just 15 to 20 minutes. Now, with so many people wanting firearms, it is taking three to five days to get an answer.”

In the almost three years Hagan has owned the shop, he has had less than a handful of buyers who were denied the ability to buy a gun. In one of those cases, it was an error with the FBI database and a second person who was denied was working on clearing up another error. When someone attempts to buy a gun who knows they are not permitted to own a firearm, Hagan explained that a report is sent to the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearm (ATF) agency who are supposed to investigate the reason an unauthorized person attempted to purchase a gun.

“We offer concealed carry classes at our store,” Hagan said. “In the classes, we help them fill out the forms, go over the process needed to get the permit and help them with the legal notice required in local papers. We also provide training based on legal requirements. Concealed carry permits have much more stringent background checks. They must go to the state police and be fingerprinted, something much more intense than just providing a name, address and birthdate.”

Information about concealed carry permit classes, new firearm owner basics, firearm safety in the home as well as many more firearm training programs, visit or give them a call at 302-567-2530.