ROE’s Armory in Glendale

ROE’s Armory in Glendale is one of many gun shops around the West Valley having a hard time keeping up with demand.

West Valley gun shops report gun sales that were peaking months ago have fallen drastically — though demand remains high, supplies are extremely low.

With increased demand, store owners are challenged with keeping products on their shelves at places like AZFirearms in Avondale, owned by Dan and Cheryl Todd since 2003.

“Since COVID, about February of last year, there have been millions of brand-new gun owners,” Dan said. “These are ones that have never owned a gun before because they want to protect or defend themselves. … This is interesting because they need help in picking the right kind of firearm.”

At Arizona Gunner in Buckeye, “I’m getting lots of calls for guns, but I don’t have any in stock,” said John, the owner, who preferred not to have his last name published.

“The suppliers don’t have any ammo anymore, so it’s hard to find it,” he added. 

ROE Armory in Glendale is also having trouble stocking products.

“That past two months for me have been slow, only because I can’t get supplies. But when I do get stuff, it goes out the door really fast,” owner Michael Sanchez said.

Kim Bishop is excited by the amount of first-time buyers she has seen at AZFirearms in Avondale, where she is the marketing manager. 

“It’s always great to see people exercising their constitutional rights,” Bishop said. 

The spike in first-time buyers was influenced for several reasons, Bishop said.

She pointed to riots over the summer, the pandemic and perceptions of new President Joe Biden as “anti-Second Amendment.” The combination, Bishop said, “Certainly makes people who have been considering a firearm purchase feel like the time is now.” 

The term “flying off the shelves” is almost literal at Hits and Miss’s, a Peoria gun shop near Glendale Community College.

Like other gun shop owners around the West Valley, Jon Halgren is having a hard time keeping firearms stocked at Hits and Miss’s.

“Whatever I get in here sells. It’s just a question of when I can get supply,” he said. “I am talking empty shelves.”

ROE Armory in Glendale is also having trouble getting products.

“That past two months for me have been slow, only because I can’t get supplies. But when I do get stuff, it goes out the door really fast,” owner Michael Sanchez said.

On ROE Armory’s website, nearly every handgun, rifle and ammunition product is marked “sold out.”

“It’s frustrating,” said Halgren, a veteran who started his business after a 20-year career at Luke Air Force Base.

“I miss the days when somebody comes in and says ‘I want this particular gun’ and I say “Give me 5 minutes and I’ll order it.’”

And it’s not just guns—bullets also are selling fast.

“I had 9 mm ammo show up Tuesday morning at 11. By 1 o’clock I was sold out,” Halgren said.

Back when the pandemic began, he thought the shortage would be short lived. “I figured two weeks, we’ll be fine. Nope.” 

He’s taking a more long-term picture of things now.

“Not until 2022 are we going to have any kind of a normal,” he said.

According to a Cronkite News story, background checks for gun purchases in Arizona hit their highest level ever in 2020. At the beginning of December, 610,911 background checks had been performed in the state through November, well over the 372,912 done in all of 2019, according to FBI data.

Nationally, firearm background checks reached an all-time high of nearly 3.9 million in December, according to NICS Firearm Checks data. Arizona mirrored that trend, doubling the total number of firearm background checks from 2019 to 2020.