COLORADO SPRINGS — Coloradans are buying firearms at a higher rate than in previous years and sellers say it's because of fears over the COVID-19 pandemic and election.
"My sales are four times greater than what they usually are this time of the year," said Paul Paradis, Owner of Paradise Sales in Colorado Springs. "I've sold guns for self-defense, which is one of the big reasons people buy guns, and I've also sold guns for hunting and collectibles."
Paradis says the end of February is when he started to see a rise in gun sales. The majority of his sales have been first-time buyers.
"We've had a bunch of things that have gone on. Probably the biggest one that we've had is the increase in unemployment, poverty, and people working fewer hours. Whenever we see the poverty levels go up, the crime levels go up. When crime levels go up, people buy more firearms," said Paradis.
As sales continue to surge, he says there's now a shortage of ammunition.
"There are multiple causes for this. When you can't get raw materials because there are not enough people working in the mines or chemical factories, then you can't get transportation to move them to the people that are going to make things, and then you don't have transportation to get them from the people that make things to the different people trying to sell or buy them. The food chain is broken for multiple reasons, there's no one single cause," said Paradis.
Due to the shortage, he's not expecting sales to increase with Black Friday. But the Colorado Bureau of Investigation says there may be an increase, and they've prepared ahead of time.
"Through October 2020 we've had 400,000 background checks compared to 330,000 for all of 2019," said Susan Medina, Spokesperson for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. "We've really been dealing with the Black Friday numbers routinely over the past few months so some of the steps we've taken such as cross-training some of the other members of the CBI and streamlining some processes, we're doing all of that to hopefully meet that demand as it comes in this week and beyond."
She says during a normal year, Black Friday is when all of the sales launch but some firearms dealers have started theirs early this year.
"We've prepared the best we can, we don't know what it's going to look like but we've got the staff there ready to go and they're ready to perform their job to the best of their ability," said Medina.
Medina says some may be frustrated with current wait times, but they're doing everything to ensure the process is done timely and accurately.
"Some of the background checks that come through, that require a little less background simply because the person doesn't have any sort of criminal history. Those are streamlined through a little quicker. But for the batches and everything like that, believe me, we've got people working on these throughout their entire day," said Medina. "Over the course of the year, there's been only a few times where we've gone over the mandatory three-day window and the support we've gotten from most firearm dealers has been extraordinary."
Paradis recommends those interested in getting a firearm taking a training class beforehand. His store offers several training courses ranging from beginner with no prior experience/exposure to firearms to more advanced training. Find more information on his classes by clicking here.