Increased gun demand in Twin Cities amid pandemic

Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, there’s an increased demand for guns in the Twin Cities.

Data from St. Paul and Minneapolis police departments shows a jump in permit to purchase applications, which are required in Minnesota to buy some guns, like handguns.

From the beginning of the year through March 19, Minneapolis police have issued 420 applications. That’s 109 applications more than last year over the same time period.

In St. Paul, the amount of weekly applications more than quintupled in a month. The week of February 17, there were 27 applications. Fast forward to the week of March 16, which saw 153 applications. That week, the department was averaging roughly 30 applications a day.

It also marked when Governor Tim Walz ordered the closure of schools and dine-in restaurants and bars throughout Minnesota due to COVID-19 concerns. 

Charles Davis, the owner of Battle Creek Armory gun store in Edina, says customers are looking for protection amid uncertain times.

“They’re worried about break-ins, they want to protect their family,” said Charles Davis. “These are probably - and I don’t want to use political terms - but people that have never owned guns that were against guns that are now buying guns because they realize that they can’t protect their family if someone does come and break in.”

Davis says his shop, which makes custom builds, typically caters to a niche community, but in the past week, he estimates 80 percent of his customers have been first-time gun owners coming in with questions. Davis says he’s selling inventory he usually saves for gun shows, which have since been canceled.

“Last week was absolutely insane,” said Davis. “My phone rings every ten seconds and I guarantee you every gun shop in Minnesota is having the same issue.”

The website for Frontiersman Sports, a gun store in St. Louis Park, posted a plea on the front page of its website offering cash on the spot for used guns.

“Due to ENORMOUS demand, we need your used guns more than ever!” reads the website. “Especially 12 and 20 GA shotguns, 9mm handguns, and extra/unwanted ammo. PLEASE help us provide a firearm to the people who are struggling to locate a gun to protect themselves and their family during this unprecedented crisis.”

Ammo is also in high demand. DKMAGS in New Brighton updated information on a Facebook post, assuring customers the store is “trying to keep ammo in stock” and is limiting purchases. 

“We saw it with the shopping markets and the food, but I never thought it would go into the guns like this,” said Davis. “It almost feels like a zombie movie thing.”