SANTA FE, N.M. — Bill Roney was steaming.
The owner of the largest gun store in Santa Fe, N.M., had more customers clamoring for firearms than ever before — but he was running out of guns and bullets to sell to them.
"You're telling me you're not receiving ammunition — not a single round?" he badgered a supplier on the phone who had just informed him that everything was out of stock. "Now I don't want to be grumpy, but I also want my business to continue."
Firearm stores around the country are in the same situation, with largely barren shelves and gun racks that have been nearly cleaned out.
Americans have purchased almost 17 million guns so far in 2020, more than in any other single full year on record, according to Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting, a research company that tracks firearms.
Higher-than-average gun sales have long been a common feature of presidential election years, as American as brightly colored yard signs and nonstop political advertisements on television.
But this year's buying spree is different — and not just because it's bigger.
In previous election years, sales spikes were believed to be driven almost entirely by longtime gun owners who worried that a Democratic president might impose new restrictions on firearms.
This time, the sales appear to be driven by fears of societal instability, and gun shop owners and trade groups say the customer base is much broader, including large numbers of Black Americans, women and people who identify as politically liberal.
"People are uneasy," said Jay Winton, who works at Roney's Santa Fe shop, the Outdoorsman, which is out of stock of many varieties of weapons and ammunition, as well as accessories such as gun safes.