KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – An unprecedented surge in gun sales is boosting the economy in the East and across the country.

The gun industry is booming and last year, the FBI conducted a record-breaking 23.1 million firearm background checks.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation says the gun industry added nearly 25,000 jobs last year for a nationwide total of nearly 288,000 jobs. Since 2008, gun industry jobs have increased 73-percent.

North Carolina is one of the top-7 states for this growth. That’s something Neuse Sport Shop in Kinston can attest to. Gun sales there have doubled just since last year.

President and CEO Russell Rhodes says they’ve hired an additional 15 employees to meet this demand.

“That’s 15 families that are being supported here in this community. Lenoir County is a tier-one community, so add 15 families being supported by that growth of industry, it’s got to be a positive thing for the community,” Rhodes said.

The fastest growing segments in the market are gun owners with concealed carry permits and women.

Rhodes says the shop’s fastest growing demographic is female shooters.

“We have a group that meets here one Monday per month called the Well-Armed Women, and that group has grown so big that we’re going to have to have two nights of that in the near future,” Rhodes said.

Sales are being driven by a desire for self-defense and concerns more gun control legislation could make guns harder to get.