OWEGO (WBNG) -- Across the United States, people are buying guns.
According to FBI data, the amount of firearm background checks has increased in recent months, with March 2020 being the highest month on record in the past 20 years.
The Southern Tier is seeing the increase in gun sales first-hand.
Lock-N-Load Sporting Goods in Owego says its gun sales have nearly tripled recently, and many customers are first time buyers.
"A lot of first time gun buyers who have never had a gun before, they're coming in and they're saying, 'My wife says now is the time we should have a gun in the house,'" said employee Alan Dutton.
Dutton thinks the increase in sales goes hand-in-hand with the pandemic.
"It's obviously, I feel, due to the panic. People see their government structure falling apart, they see things flying off the grocery shelves, they're worried about protecting your homes," he says.
Those in the industry are calling it a total 'gun grab.'
"I've only been around a little while in this business but it is unlike any situation I've ever seen. And I'm pretty sure the people who have been in the business for 40 years would say the same," said Dutton.
The rapid increase in sales is also causing a supply shortage around the globe, impacting stores here in the Southern Tier.
"This just didn't affect the United States, it's obvious that the world is feeling this crunch," said Dutton. "It's getting harder and harder to stock my shelves with normal, everyday ammo like 9 millimeter and 45."
Dutton says he understands the concerns that come with an increase in gun sales.
"Unfortunately guns are destructive devices, that's what they do. Guns destroy what you point at, there's no doubt about it. It's not like getting into golf here. Of course, I understand that. And I understand the safeguards the government puts into place to make sure the gun doesn't get into the hands of the wrong people," he said.
But he hopes the buyers will get involved in a new hobby once the pandemic is over.
"I want them to be safe. And we encourage them to join the Tioga County Sportsmen's Association, or a local range, or take a safety class," he said.
Lock-N-Load has also seen an increase in sales for its fishing and food plot supplies since the pandemic started.