ORANGE PARK – The COVID-19 outbreak has spawned a variety of responses across the country, including a spike in gun sales and concealed carry permits.
As some residents fear a possible imposition of martial law and the breakdown of order, people are reacting, gun and pawn stores have seen an increase among proponents of the second amendment.
“We have a had a spike in requests for concealed carry permits – and the class for it – and also people looking for ammo,” said Sherry Gonyan of Basics Range and Gun on College Drive in Orange Park. “People are not able to find ammunition anywhere. It’s getting bought out practically everywhere around town. Also, popular handguns are going fast.”
According to Gonyan, most people coming into her store cite their reason for purchasing a firearm as personal protection.
Some believe that with many out of work for an extended time, there may be increases in both crime and desperation.
“There’s a feeling of unease everywhere right now,” she said. “People are, I think, are just grasping for an opportunity to ease their fears. Some of them, it’s with a gun.”
Basics not only sells guns and ammunition but also has a range where people can practice shooting and offers many different classes.
The use of the range has not seen the same jump that gun sales have, according to Gonyan.
“It comes in waves,” she said of customers entering the store to use the range. “I think people are a little cautious of using up their ammunition. So, we are seeing people come in. Some people are coming in because they're bored. There’s not much else to do. I had a family come in a couple of days ago; two parents and four children and they spent a couple of hours in here.”
Money-Bridge Pawn Superstore on Blanding Boulevard has also seen steady uptick in the sales of firearms.
“We have seen a slight uptick, but we always sell [firearms] well anyway,” said Dan Sibert, general manager of Money-Bridge Pawn. “We’ve had a lot of people asking for ammo. We have regular customers that usually buy a lot of our firearms. Everybody is afraid of what the government’s trying to do unconstitutionally. They’re trying to take away our rights. They’re already trying to take away in certain cities, the right to buy a gun. So that’s one thing that they’re worried about.”
“People just panic when things like this go on,” said James, a shopper in Money-Bridge who declined to share his last name.