Gun sales are surging in Charlotte

Gun sales are surging in Charlotte
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Gun sales in Charlotte and throughout North Carolina have surged over the past year, matching a national trend and rising noticeably in the months since Joe Biden was elected president.

Firearms dealers in North Carolina reported 86,017 applications for background checks for gun sales in January 2021, up 59.8% from a year ago, according to data the FBI released this week. Nationally, applications were also up 60% year over year in January.

The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office has been so overwhelmed with purchase permit and concealed handgun permit applications, they had to authorize overtime and bring in new staffers to help.

  • Since July, registration staff has worked 2,686.6 overtime hours — equal to more than 111 days — to meet processing demands, according to data from the sheriff’s office.
  • Other staffers within the division put in another 2,648.5 hours to help with tasks like fingerprinting so that trained staff could focus on processing purchase and concealed permits, spokesperson Janet Parker tells me.
  • In January, the sheriff’s office issued 5,008 gun purchase permits, a rise of 73.8% from the year prior.

Why it matters: Gun sales rise when customers are feeling anxious or uncertain. Last year, data statewide show surges in March (the onset of the pandemic in the U.S.), June (protests following the police killing of George Floyd) and November (after the elections).

  • Firearm sales tend to rise after Democrats win elections over fear of tighter gun laws, as the New York Times has reported. At his rallies, former president Donald Trump would (falsely) warn his supporters that Democrats “will take your guns away.”

“A lot of people worried if they couldn’t get a firearm now they might not be able to later,” said Larry Hyatt, owner of Hyatt Gun Shop.

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Data: FBI; Chart: Axios Visuals

For Hyatt’s shop, sales were higher last year than they’ve ever been in the Charlotte retailer’s 62-year history. Since the onset of the pandemic, customers at Hyatt have predominantly been first-time gun buyers, Hyatt says.

  • Many of the buyers Hyatt worked with were young residents who live in more urban parts of the city, such as Uptown, Plaza Midwood and NoDa.
  • The top selling items have been shotguns and gun security boxes.

“This group, the new gun buyers, want to take classes. They seemed to be extremely responsible buyers,” Hyatt said.

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