Over the past year and into 2021, gun sales nationwide have soared. The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check system shows millions more guns were legally sold in 2020 than the year before.
One Mandan gun shop has benefited from the increase, with more people buying firearms, and signing up to learn how to use them.
Josette Severson first held a gun 17 years ago when she worked for USDA wildlife services.
“I will never forget my first gun, it was a Ruger Mark II, and that sparked everything for me,” Severson said.
Now, she owns Prairie Patriot in Mandan, selling guns and teaching new firearm owners proper technique and safety — including Nicole Hoekstra, who’s had a gun for a few years, but decided now’s the time to learn.
“Having a gun, I want to know how to use it, and they are very good teachers here,” Hoekstra said.
Hoekstra and her sister Suzann Sweeney are part of an intro to handguns class.
“I grew up shooting rifles. I’ve shot a handgun a couple of times, and I just want to learn more about it,” Sweeney said.
They’re just two of the millions who recently who became gunowners.
“In 2020, there were 7 million first-time handgun owners. Throw on top of that the pandemic, the rioting, the uncertainty going on in our country. There was a lot of panic buying with those guns,” Severson said. “The bulk of those folks realized, I do need to get the training, and that’s why they’re going to a certified facility.”
That spike in gun ownership has continued into 2021, according to data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background check system. Those numbers have bode well for business at Prairie Patriot — with new demographics interested in learning.
“The big surprise from this past year was the increase in senior citizens coming to my range. Now during the day, we have our silver bullet club for 60-plus,” Severson said.
The uptick in demand has also fueled a shortage in ammunition nationwide, which Severson says has made practice without ammo, or dry fire, important.
To keep up with changing gun laws in the state, Severson says she invites state representatives to her classes to explain the changes when new laws take effect in August.