Jared Tymes of New Gloucester shops for a gun at Coastal Defense in Auburn on Tuesday. He is not a first-time owner. He has guns for self-defense and target shooting. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

In a time of uncertainty, gun shop owner Rick LaChapelle is certain about one thing.

Gun and ammunition sales have risen since coronavirus-related restrictions have been put in place.

“A large amount of people are coming in to buy weapons,” the owner of Coastal Defense in Auburn said.

LaChapelle owns six pawn shops and one gun store. The pawn shops are closed because they are deemed “nonessential” by state officials. The gun shop is allowed to keep the doors open.

“People are scared. People are nervous about the overreach of government,” LaChapelle said, adding people are buying guns and ammunition at a rate not seen since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

The shelf for 9 mm ammunition is empty at Coastal Defense in Auburn on Tuesday. “People are buying a lot,” owner Rick LaChapelle said. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Chris Jordan of G3 Firearms struggles to keep ammunition on the shelves of his Turner gun shop. “It’s a lot of work right now,” he said.

“Everyone got guns after Sandy Hook. Now they need ammo,” he said.

Jordan said he is at “the mercy of his distributors. I saw 22,000 rounds of 9 mm disappear in four hours” while watching his supplier’s inventory dwindle while ordering the popular round online.

Jordan was tight-lipped about how he is able to stock his shelves with ammunition while many big-box stores and gun shops across Maine go without.

“I got friends,” is all Jordan would say.

“People are buying a lot,” LaChapelle said. “I’m out of 9 mm, .223 and 5.56.”

He said it is not one thing or another that he is selling a lot of it. “It’s a mixture of everything.”

LaChapelle said guns for self-defense, hunting rifles and weapons used for target practice are all selling quickly. “Many are not just buying one, but multiple guns at the same time,” he said.

“Everyone is trying to be prepared,” LaChapelle said. “As a society, we are not used to be told to stay home. It’s making people nervous.

“It’s not just the virus,” he said. “It’s what’s the next thing.”

Rick LaChapelle and Lisa Farnum inventory six boxes of ammunition that arrived at Coastal Defense in Auburn on Tuesday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

He said he has a hard time understanding why one business is allowed to stay open while another is ordered to close.

“If there is ever a time when people need short-term cash it’s now,” he said, speaking of the pawn industry. “I can stay open to sell a gun, but I can’t sell a drill or a lawnmower.”

“I have 30 employees not working right now,” LaChapelle said. “My firearms business is good, but not enough to keep 30 people working.”

“I have an enormous amount of first-time buyers,” he said. “We explain to the customer how to shoot the gun because gun safety classes have been shut down.

“I have customers saying I don’t own a gun, but I’m going to buy a gun,” LaChapelle said. “If the stores run out of food, people will go hunt for their food.”

“For the first time since owning the shop, I have started to shut my phone off at night,” Jordan said. “People will call at all hours.”

“We will survive this,” LaChapelle said. “But nothing will ever be the same again.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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