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High Demand, Tight Supply Impacting New York Gun Sales

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- During the coronavirus pandemic we've seen high demand and tight supply for so many goods, from cleaning products to personal protective equipment.

And now, firearms and ammunition.

Gun dealers say the demand is through the roof and they're working overtime trying to keep up, CBS2's Tony Aiello reported Tuesday.

The FBI says between March and July the number of pre-gun background checks it conducted nationwide jumped 93%. That is hard data to back up anecdotal information. In other words, business is booming.

The Mossberg 500 shotgun is widely considered an excellent firearm for home defense, but good luck trying to find one in a gun store.

When Denine Timlin, owner of Smoke'n Gun Shop in Mount Vernon, calls the manufacturer, "They're extremely behind. The person on the phone anticipates catching up sometime, 2023."


Timlin said she can't get used to the empty display racks and diminishing ammo supplies.

"This is usually all stocked," said.

Timlin said she's constantly on the phone with suppliers, working every angle to meet demand.

"A lot of people wanting home defense, so inventory has definitely been an issue, but definitely challenging," she said.

It's happening in New York and across the country.

"I've had calls from Chicago, from Nebraska, actually got a call from someone in Canada asking for shotguns," Timlin said.

Customers tell the staff they worry about civil unrest and demands to defund the police. In all, 80% of recent customers are first-time gun buyers.

"A lot of people that did not want firearms and were not in favor of firearms are standing on line at our gun shop saying, 'I need a firearm,'" Timlin said.

FLASHBACK: 'I Do Worry': U.S. Gun Sales Surge As Coronavirus Fears Spread

The shop emphasizes safe handling and safe storage, and had to hire extra staff for the range in the basement. So, many new gun owners are doing the right thing and getting proper training.

"What a gun's about, how a firearm can be used, how it can be used both for sport and defense," range safety officer Nathaniel Brown said.

"A lot of first-time gun owners are coming out, and safety is our first priority," Timlin added.

A trade group says 2020 is shaping up to be the biggest year ever for the gun industry.

Timlin said gun demand usually spikes during a presidential election year, but add in all the other factors her business has doubled. As soon as she gets inventory of home-defense weapons in the door, she has buyers lined up.

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