KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The number of people buying guns in Missouri and Kansas continues to rise amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Anyone who buys a gun from a federally licensed dealer must go through a background check to confirm they are not prohibited from owning a firearm.
The latest NICS figures reveal the number of background checks by licensed firearm dealers in Kansas skyrocketed from 17,535 in February to 29,816 in March. That’s an increase of 12,281 or 70%.
Missouri saw a similar jump.
According to NICS figures, the number of background checks by licensed gun dealers in Missouri increased from 48,705 in February to 76,262 in March. That’s an uptick of 28,157 – or 58%.
Those numbers don’t surprise Tim Mottram, owner of The Armory in Kearney. He says his firearm sales have shot up 150% since February.
“I have seen a significant increase in sales amid COVID-19,” he told FOX4. “I’ve seen more first-time buyers in the last three weeks than I have in the last four years. People are scared. That’s what it comes down to.”
Mottram says he’s sold out of guns three times in the past three weeks.
“And my suppliers are sold out of guns and ammunition. I still have some guns available,” Mottram said. “But once I’m out, I’m not sure when I’ll get more.”
Those increases don’t surprise John Ham either. He’s a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive (ATF)’s Kansas City Field Division.
“It is not unprecedented to see an increase in firearms sales based on time of year, societal or political events,” he told FOX4.
But Ham added this warning for potential gun buyers.
“It is a violation of federal law to purchase a firearm for someone that cannot lawfully own or possess one,” he said. “ATF encourages all gun sales be conducted by a federally licensed firearms dealer to ensure comprehensive background checks are completed.”
Gun Sales Legal During Emergency Stay At Home Orders
Several counties in the metro and across Missouri issued emergency stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic. But under state law, it is illegal to prohibit the sale of firearms or ammunition during an emergency:
(RSMO 44.101) Firearms and ammunition, state of emergency, no restrictions permitted. —
The state, any political subdivision, or any person shall not prohibit or restrict the lawful possession, transfer, sale, transportation, storage, display, or use of firearms or ammunition during an emergency.
Across the state line, after Kansas Governor Laura Kelly issued a disaster emergency declaration on March 12, 2020, regarding COVID-10, lawmakers passed a resolution banning the governor from limiting the sale of guns or ammunition:
State Government—Disaster Emergency Declaration; HCR 5025
The resolution further states, for the purposes of the ratification, the Governor shall not have the power or authority pursuant to either KSA 2019 Supp. 48-925(c)(8), or any other executive authority, to temporarily or permanently seize, or authorize seizure of, any ammunition or to suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of firearms or ammunition.