ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. — They're selling like crazy in 2020.
No, it's not just toilet paper, hand sanitizer or face masks. The demand for guns is up which means more people are getting gun permits from Triad sheriff offices.
Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page said concealed weapon permits are up 70% and gun purchase permits are up 115%.
"When people say, 'well I'm interested in getting a firearm' and stuff like this I say, 'well if you are because some of that inventory may not be available'," Page said.
Page said he's heard of gun and ammunition shortages all over the community as a result. He said there are firearm safety instructors renting guns to people taking the courses because they can't find one to buy.
He also said his department bought extra ammunition at the start of the pandemic, anticipating a possible shortage.
Other departments in the Triad are seeing it too.
In 2019, the Guilford County Sheriff's Office gave out a total 8,807 gun permits between January first and August 14. This year it's given out 18,591 in that same time frame.
The Forsyth County Sheriff's Office is on track to double the number of permits given this year.
Sheriff Page said the pandemic has been one factor in causing the increase because it creates uncertainty. Other sheriff's offices said they tend to give out more gun permits in election years.
Page said Second Amendment rights have been a flashpoint in the past. This year he thinks a different message is getting people's attention.
"I think more and more people are hearing those messages about defunding the police, civil unrest, they're becoming more and more concerned for their safety and the safety of their families," Page said.
Page said he and hundreds of other sheriffs across the country discussed those concerns with President Trump during a conference call Tuesday.
"He showed his support for us and wanted to reaffirm that the White House is there [for us]," Page said.
Page, a supporter of gun ownership, hopes to see the number of Concealed Weapon Permittees in Rockingham County increase to 10,000 by the end of the year. There were 8,075 of those permittees at last count.
He stresses that new gun owners should take proper safety courses and take the time to understand gun laws.