In late 2012, I applied to become a home-based Federal Firearms Licensed (FFL) Dealer. After about a year of training people who were looking to get their carry permits, I grew concerned by the number of people showing up with sub-par guns or guns that did not meet their needs or abilities. As a Home-Based dealer, with no overhead and only one employee (me), I figured I could offer my students reliable options at much better prices. In order to become a new dealer, I had to make a minimum purchase of 10 guns which was a big hit to my meager budget and I wasn’t sure how long it would take to sell those 10 guns. On December 14, 2012, the unthinkable happened with a gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary and killed 20 1st graders and 6 teachers. The nation was shocked and horrified by the Evil they saw that day. They realized that this could happen anywhere and they wanted to be better prepared to protect themselves. They also feared the current administration would move to ban semi-automatic firearms. This resulted in a huge increase in firearms and ammunition sales and people seeking training. By the end of January 2013, I had sold approximately 30 guns and had classes booked solid for the next 4 months.
By the end of February, ammunition and handguns were getting hard to find. Because I worked from home, I would take a break about lunch time and simply log on to the firearms distributor website. This was about the time they started to receive orders from the manufactures, and I watched real time as the guns were received. I would pick out a couple, put them on an order and have them shipped. By the time I finished my lunch the guns were usually gone. My little system worked pretty well for the next few months. By April I actually had more handguns stored in my FFL safe at home than Bass Pro had on the shelves, and my sales rep said I was her top online purchaser. Big Box stores and gun shops were so inundated with customers, that could not stop to replenish their stock and by the time they closed the door and went to try and order more firearms they were gone. It didn’t take long for the gun stores to figure out the only way to replenish stock was to hire additional people to simply sit in a room and watch the stock and order everything that came in. If a batch of 400 guns came in, they ordered all of them and by the time I could put 2 or 3 guns in my cart and press “checkout” they were gone! This led to a situation where every single handgun available from a distributor in the US was changed to “allocated” status. This means that dealers are not allowed to order them directly from the online system. They had to put their name on a waiting list and wait until the sales rep called them and allocated one or two guns to them. This went on for over a year and it wasn’t until mid-2014 before we saw anything close to normal.
Fast forward to 2020, and the situation is even worse! Due to the effects of Corona virus and the civil unrest in the country gun sales have soared 145%. Firearms manufacturers are simply not able to keep up with the demand. They are still making and shipping guns, but almost every type of self-defense or semi-auto firearm is in “allocated” status, and these allocations simply go to which ever dealer the sales rep happens to be on the phone with when the shipment arrives. The distributors’ warehouses are bare! A quick glance with one of my distributors shows they have less than 20% of all their skus in stock. Industry insiders are predicting this shortage will continue well in to 2021 and may get worse before it gets better. My advice is if you see a gun you think you might want; you better pull the trigger on it because it likely won’t be available long