Action News Investigation: Guns as scarce as masks, hand sanitizer amid coronavirus pandemic

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Gun sales are soaring since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Action News Investigative Team looked at gun data and found background checks for gun sales exploded in March as people appear to be arming themselves during the outbreak.

"75% of the calls I get are first time gun buyers," said Joe Butler owner of The Thin Blue Line Firearms.

Butler is shutting his gun shop down starting on April 6th for at least a week putting gun purchases on hold.

"I'm overwhelmed, I am overwhelmed, I can't take anymore internet purchases."

Butler is what is known as a kitchen table dealer.

People buy online and he does the background check.

Gun makers then ship him the weapons.

Butler said he has been inundated with first time gun buyers applying for background checks.

"Usually see about a 100 a quarter now I am getting 400 a month," he said.

The Action News Investigative Team has found background checks like the those conducted by Butler have exploded. In March.

Our data analysis found Delaware saw checks nearly double from February with an 88% increase.

Pennsylvania saw a 34% uptick.

New Jersey 28%.

Michael Claypoole, owner of Crown Firearms believes the buying rush is due to fear and uncertainty.

He's run out of ammunition and said it is hard to come by like hand sanitizer and toilet paper.

"It is wiped out nobody has it," he said.

Claypoole also told Action News it is hard to get a Glock 19's, 9mm pistols and that certain home defense handguns are sold out.

Alicia Biedrick is among those arming themselves for the first time for protection and wanted to be prepared.

"I mean who knows Marshall law may go into effect, I don't know, what could be happening that we don't know about so."

You need a license to carry a firearm. And many license to carry permits been extended to government offices closing down.

Bottom line: If you are looking for a new license to carry, you'll likely have to wait.
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