Toilet paper. Hand sanitizer. Canned soup. And guns.
Colorado Bureau of Investigation background check numbers between March 10 and Monday indicate firearms are flying off the shelves the same way groceries are in the state.
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In that seven-day span, the CBI received 14,604 background check requests, compared to 7,357 during the same timeframe last year. That’s a 98% increase.
“Just as other states have recently experienced, CBI InstaCheck has recorded a high volume of requests for background checks for firearms transfers,” CBI spokeswoman Susan Medina said in a written statement Monday.
CBI is working to process the surge in background checks in a timely manner, but is also trying to keep its employees safe to ensure they are practicing social distancing.
“We’ve been slammed,” said Paul Paradis, of the Paradise Sales gun store in Colorado Springs. “It’s been that way for three days now.”
Paradis said the biggest seller has been ammunition — 9mm, to be exact — though he has seen an uptick in actual firearms sales, too.
“They’re worried about martial law,” he said. “They’re worried (about) protecting their toilet paper.”
There are reports from across the nation that gun sales are spiking.
Some gun shows have been canceled, but online sales and in-person sales at federally licensed dealers appear to be up. Ammo.com has reported sales up nearly 70 percent from Feb. 23 to March 4 over the previous 11 days.
At Sportsmen’s Warehouse in Meridian, Idaho, some shelves holding handgun ammunition were nearly wiped out. The store posted signs telling customers that sales were limited to no more than two handguns per person each day and no more than one AR- or AK-platform rifles each day. It also placed limits on ammunition.
As recently as Friday, Martin B. Retting Guns in Culver City, California, posted on its Facebook page that it had plenty of handguns and a decent supply of ammunition. But by the weekend, photographs showed lines extending out its doors and down the block. The staff was too busy to answer the phone or continue holding firearms safety certification classes, the shop posted on its Facebook page.
Someone who picked up the phone at Firing Line, a sprawling gun store in Aurora, on Monday said he was “way too busy to be dealing with reporters.”
Paradis said the CBI background check system was showing thousands of pending requests. Another firearm industry worker in Castle Rock said the wait time appeared to be 17 hours.
“It’s been a little bit hectic in here,” said Tony Meyers, who works at Top Shot Guns in Grand Junction.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.