Gun sales hike due to Russian conflict? Local shops say no

(ABC 6 News) – New data released by Small Arms Analytics shows United States gun sales were higher than anticipated in February and the hike may be linked to tensions between Russia and Ukraine. The number of daily background checks conducted on February 24, 25, 26 and 28 were unusually high — coinciding with the first few days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

However, both the Olmsted County Sheriff and local gun shop owners said they have not seen any huge increases in permits or sales in the last month.

"It’s come down to more of a normal level," said Charles Pearson, the owner of Wind Power Firearms in Eyota.

Pearson did say that his customers, on average, are thinking more about personal safety.

"People feel that they need to maybe protect themselves and purchase a firearm. There was a lot of first-time buyers," he said.

Last year gun sellers saw a massive increase in sales, which they partially attribute to lingering fear from the pandemic and from the unrest in Minneapolis after the police killing of George Floyd.

Olmsted County Sherriff Kevin Torgerson often sees a spike in gun permit applications on election years.

"We see that too where people buy with some of the unrest and the political environment," Torgerson said.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension released a report in March saying that Minnesota sheriffs handed out over 100,000 permits last year — a record in the state. The Olmsted County Sheriff’s office handed out 1,366.

Gun sellers and the sheriff’s office have some concerns about new gun owners in Olmsted County.

"Those who have children and second thoughts about safety and keeping a firearm in the home," Pearson said.

They believe some new gun owners may not have proper training or safety equipment to keep their households safe.

"People always think they need a gun to protect themselves. Yes, it’s there to, in some ways, protect if someone’s shooting at me," Torgerson said.

But any time you bring a gun into a situation — there’s a risk.

"Now that gun is there, and it can be used against me and more dangerous to me," he added.

The sheriff’s office asks new gun owners to make sure to keep the gun unloaded and locked up. Store ammunition in a completely separate location.