CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As the number of Coronavirus cases continues to climb so do gun sales.

A recent report shows a 68 percent increase in sales from mid-February to now. It is an election year and gun sales usually go up. However this year, sales in January and February have outpaced 2016 by nearly 350,000.

WCNC Charlotte found a line of people waiting outside a local gun store.  The owner of Hyatt Gun Shop, Larry Hyatt, said he’s seen a spike in sales in the past, but nothing like this. He also said it’s a different crowd buying guns than what they typically see.

“We’re seeing a massive buying of guns for self-protection,” said Hyatt.

Hyatt said he is seeing unprecedented demand for buying guns in the past few days during the Coronavirus outbreak.  He said he’s seeing a growing number of women, senior citizens, and customers from urban areas purchasing guns.

“People are worried that looting and gangs and food fights and things like that could take place and maybe our institutions can't handle it,” said Hyatt.

Hyatt said the biggest gun sales in the past came immediately after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School when new gun regulations were proposed. 

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“People were buying because they thought they wouldn't be able to get one later, but it was a different crowd it wasn't fear in the air, it wasn't this sense of urgency we have now,” said Hyatt.

Hyatt said the urgency is leading some people to avoid buying handguns because there’s a two week delay for a background check.
“A lot of people are buying rifles and shotguns because you can go through the NIX background check and it's quicker, but even those have delays,” Hyatt said.

In the meantime, Hyatt said he’s trying to protect his employees from the virus.

“Our senior citizens staff we've sent home because they're more vulnerable,” Hyatt said.

Hyatt says he’s also limiting the number of people inside the store at a time as they try to keep up with skyrocketing demand.   He says he doesn’t know how long the gun shop will keep its doors open because of the rapidly changing situation.

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