Gun sales surged in May as shops reported an uptick in interest and demand amid national protests after the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd and as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc and stoke fear across the country. “Almost, you couldn’t even keep up with it. That’s how crazy it was,” said Joe Hawk, owner of Guns & Roses in New Jersey. “After Memorial Day, it spiked again. It just went crazy again.” Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting, a private research firm, estimated that more than 1.7 million guns were sold in May, an 80% jump from May 2019. “Yet again, firearms sales have surged in unprecedented ways,” said Jurgen Brauer, the group’s chief economist. The stock prices for several gunmaking companies, including Sturm, Ruger & Co., jumped Monday. Larry Hyatt, owner of Hyatt Guns in Charlotte, North Carolina, said the gun demand prompted by COVID-19 was already straining suppliers. “Then you have this looting and rioting causing another demand, and it’s really putting pressure on inventory,” Mr. Hyatt said. Gun sales typically increase during presidential election years and during periods of national unrest, including after mass shootings, but Mr. Hyatt said the confluence of factors is unique.
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