Gun sales continue to skyrocket in Utah

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MURRAY, Utah. (ABC4) — Gun sales are skyrocketing in Utah and it has been that way since the pandemic began.

Gun enthusiasts tell ABC4 it’s because of the election, the pandemic, and social unrest.

There was double the amount of background checks completed in 2020 than in 2019. There were more than 180,000 completed in 2020 and around 95,000 in 2019.

TNT Guns and Range employees tell ABC4 they cannot keep up with the demand. As soon as they get more guns, they’re gone within days.

Gun enthusiasts and law enforcement said with more guns in the hands of Utahns, there needs to be more responsibility.

“The people who can legally possess guns aren’t the ones we are worried about,” said Utah County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Spencer Cannon.

With more guns bought in Utah and more background checks completed in 2020 than any other year in the last decade, gun ethusiast Clark Aposhian said this stat makes sense.

“They said you know what, I’m going to go buy a gun and they started buying guns,” said Aposhian.

Aposhian is the chairman of Utah Shooting Sports Council.

“They started getting conceal carry permits and they started getting training and we saw that trend,” said Aposhian.

Aposhian believes a mix of the presidential election, the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest has caused thousands to rethink their own safety.

“I think it’s probably because people understand or at least have that sense of vulnerability; one for their own personal safety and two they think if they have to fend for themselves and be responsible for their own family and that that they want a firearm other than a hunting type firearm,” said Aposhian.

So what about law enforcement? More guns could be on the streets and in the community.

“It certainly seems like it could be because of a political climate or whatever, but the biggest thing that causes me concern is that you have that many more people out there and I have to ask the question are they going to handle that responsibly,” said Cannon. “That is what it always comes back to.”

Sgt. Cannon’s biggest concern is with kids. 

Firearms are the number one cause of death among children and teens in the state according to the Gun Violence Prevention Center.

“I don’t care how well behaved your kids are and I don’t care how well educated they are because of what you taught them, they are a curiosity factor for children,” said Cannon.

“People are paying more for these guns, double if not more for these guns because the supply cannot keep up with demand of that including ammunition,” said Aposhian.

TNT Guns and Range said it can’t keep up with demand and either can the manufacturers. So employees tell ABC4 they think these historic gun sales will continue throughout the year. 

Gov. Spencer Cox Utah signed a bill that will allow residents 21 and older to carry concealed weapon without a permit in public. That goes into effect in May.

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