‘We’re breaking records every day’: Gun store owner in Opelika talks surge in sales

Ashley Buttle / CC BY 2.0
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OPELIKA, Ala. (WSFA) -- Toilet paper, bottled water, and hand sanitizer seem to not be the only coronavirus essentials for some Alabamians. Gun and ammunition sales have surged.

Don Lankford, owner of Southern Survival, said he hasn’t seen this amount of customers in years. With the reality of the coronavirus setting in, he said he can hardly keep up with the demand.

“We’re breaking records every day,” said Lankford. “We had a good supply, we had 1,000 guns in here and a lot of ammo, but it’s going quick.”

I asked Lankford why people felt the need to purchase a gun right now and he said most people are buying to protect themselves from others, especially in more rural areas where there in not as heavy of a police presence.

"People are nervous," Lankford said. "They're not nervous of the coronavirus, they're nervous of other people trying to take advantage."

He said a lot of people coming into his store are buying a gun for the very first time, and buying it specifically because of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Lankford said he always recommends his customers to take a class before purchasing, but right now is a unique situation.

“We do gun classes here, but we’ve had to cancel them due to the coronavirus. We try to give them as much instruction as possible so they won’t hurt themselves,” said Lankford. “This is a situation where they need to grab it when they can because in a few days, it won’t be available.”

Nationwide, there is a similar increase. According to NBC, Ammo.com has had a 70 percent increase in sales. NBC also reports that gun sales usually increase in election years, but so far this year’s figures are still an increase of nearly 350,000 over 2016.

In the past, gun and ammunition distributors have increased the prices on guns after a disaster, but Lankford says this time around that’s not the case.

“We have not seen the prices go up on this one because the problem is, the guns aren’t available,” said Lankford.

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