As happened in many gun stores around the nation, The Modern Sportsman in Burnsville, Minn., saw gun and ammunition sales rise as fear over COVID-19 increased.
Located just 20 minutes southwest of Minneapolis, the establishment features a retail outlet, a 16-lane indoor range, and classrooms for firearms education and training.
“We saw a real spike in sales at the end of March,” said owner John McConkey. “And many, many of these customers were first-time gun buyers. Literally, half the people coming in had no idea you have to have a background check done before you could buy a gun. They knew very little about firearms and zero about gun laws.”
Sales continued to hold far above the norm at McConkey’s business through April and May.
“As soon as we put out ammunition and new guns, they are gone,” said McConkey. “Our inventory can’t keep up with demand.”
McConkey has owned the Modern Sportsman since 2014, and has seen several spikes in gun sales. “Every one of those surges was tied to the political uncertainty, to politicians saying they were going to pass more gun-control laws and to take away peoples’ firearms. This time? People are scared. They want to be able to protect themselves and their families. And for the first time, a lot of these people are starting to realize what the Second Amendment really means.
“I think gun shops around the country have a responsibility to help train and educate all these new gun owners,” McConkey said. “The new gun owners we see here are very focused on gun safety and they are eager for training.”
McConkey often points to NRA programs and literature when he speaks with new gun owners, as, since 1871, the NRA has been the standard-bearer for firearms safety and training. If you’re a new gun owner (or want to introduce someone to firearms), he explains that everyone must start with the NRA’s Gun Safety Rules, which are a concise and easy-to-understand explanation of the safest way to handle, use and clean firearms.
He also often recommends the NRA’s Guide for New Shooters. This Guide takes readers through what to expect at a shooting range, the gear they will likely need, as well as safety rules and shooting tips and a lot more.
Next, new gun owners can check out the NRA-created videos on safe, proper gun handling and more at the NRA’s own YouTube Channel. One great video all new gun owners should check out is “NRA Mentor—Gun Safety,” which simply and clearly presents the rules for real gun safety.
McConkey also noted that women are the fastest-growing segment of new firearms owners. He has seen this firsthand. To serve all of these new gun owners, the NRA recently launched NRAWomen.com. This site covers everything for women, including information and advice on firearms training, self-defense, hunting and range activities like shooting clays.