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SAN DIEGO — San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and other local officials are asking people to stop the senseless violence — a plea that comes on the heels of gun sales breaking records amid the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide protests and riots.

According to NeverAgainCA, the lives of 100 people are cut short every day by gun violence in the United States.

On Friday, National Gun Violence Awareness Day, FOX 5 spoke with a local gun expert who says there were more than 70,000 guns sold in San Diego County in April — a 500% increase from the month before. A majority of those sales were first time buyers.

Tony, a Santee resident, said he never really had an interest in buying a shotgun until the recent protests and riots, some of which broke out just down the street from his home.

“I decided that if it got out of hand, I wanted to make sure that I had protection for myself,” Tony said.

Tony said he was in the military, but he’s not really a gun guy. He said seeing the recent chaos motivated him to buy a shotgun.

“People are starting to experience fear and realize that they have to take their safety and protection seriously and that it’s their responsibility. It’s up to them to take care of themselves. They realize police officers are extremely busy and they’re not always available and firearms are just a tool,” said Michael Schwartz, executive director of San Diego County Gun Owners. The group prides itself on educating people on the laws, safety, and use of a firearm.

Schwartz says gun sales spiked more than 80% nationwide last month.

“So much so the retailers, distributors and manufacturers can’t keep up,” Schwartz said.

That’s a statement one local gun store owner can attest to.

“We’ve had three of our top 10 sales days ever in the past four days,” said David Chong, CEO of AO Sword Firearms in El Cajon.

Chong has been selling a wide range of guns for seven years and says this week by far has been the largest rush in terms of people buying guns.

“These folks have seen downtowns burn in their own communities. They’ve seen the police not be able to respond to violence and arson because they’ve been overwhelmed. That leaves just them as the last line of defense for their families and their homes,” said Chong.