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Local gun shop sees sales spike

HANCOCK — Just as grocery stores have been stripped bare by Americans concerned by coronavirus, guns and ammunition have started flying off the shelves, the Associated Press (AP) reported on March 16. Retailers say the buying frenzy is being fueled by consumers who are worried that people are becoming so desperate and unpredictable, they need to ensure they can protect themselves.

Northwoods Sporting Goods – Freeman’s Gun Shop in Hancock has experienced the same jump in sales.

Rick Freeman, Jr. said the shop will remain open in the forseeable future, although he will extremely limit face-to-face business and conduct curbside pickup.

“We’re going to limit face-to-face,” he said, “a lot; we’re going to limit a lot of face-to-face. But as of right now, our plan is to stay open.”

Face-to-face limitation began Tuesday morning, and will remain in effect until further notice. The store, however, will maintain its regular business hours of 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Freeman said that while he cannot put a number on it, sales have increased quite a bit at his gun shop, as well.

“Across the country — I don’t know if I’m quoting anybody — but they’ve said there’s been a 400% increase in background checks across the country,” said Freeman. “I don’t think we’ve seen that here, yet, but I mean 400% would…we’d be here ’til midnight.”

Specific data on the size of the sales spike will not be available until next month, stated the AP report. But already this year, background checks are up considerably over last year. According to data from the FBI, just over 5.5 million background checks were conducted in January and February combined.

The report goes on to state that “sales spiked in a matter of days, industry experts say.” Some of the purchases are made by people buying their first firearm. Others are existing gun owners adding to their collection or stocking up on ammunition after seeing grocery stores depleted, schools closed and big events canceled, including the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting.

Freeman said in Hancock, he believes that the increase is not panic-buying, as in what grocery stores are experience, but people are becoming cautious.

“I think people are a little bit scared of what possibly could happen,” he said, “but will happen? I have no idea. Nobody does.”

While fear could be a contributing factor, Freeman said many purchasers are customers who are just adding to their collections, and the coming of summer often sees an increase in firearm sales.

The AP’s report stated that also potentially driving the sales are concerns that elected officials may try to restrict access to firearms. A mayor in Illinois recently signed an executive order that would give her the right to ban the sale of guns or ammunition, as did the mayor of New Orleans.

On March 12, the mayor of Champaign, Illinois, gave herself the power to ban the sale of guns and alcohol after declaring a citywide emergency to address the coronavirus, according to a March 13 Washington Examiner article. Deborah Frank Feinen signed the executive order on Thursday declaring a state of emergency for the city.

“That executive order, which is in line with municipal code,” wrote Madison Dibble in the AP article, “comes with extraordinary powers for the mayor to enact over a short period of time as the city combats the spread of the coronavirus.”

Among the powers Feinen gained after signing the executive order was the power to ban the sale of guns, ammunition, alcohol, and gasoline. Feinen could also cut off access to individuals’ gas, water, or electricity. The city also has the ability to “take possession of private property” or order the temporary closing of all bars or liquor stores.

So far, nothing so sweeping has been declared in Michigan, a state which enjoys “open carry” laws.

Freeman said, however, that yes, Northwoods Sporting Goods will remain open, at least in the foreseeable future.

He said if anyone needs something, just call the store.

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