Daniel Buck stands in his shop, Daniel Buck Auctions in Lisbon, where a large part of his business is selling firearms to walk-in customers because of higher demand.  Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Gage Jordan was an hour away from closing time at G3 Firearms in Turner three weeks ago when the phones at the store started lighting up.

“The night the Capitol overrun hit (on Jan. 6), we were getting ready to close — I mean, it was a decent day, but it wasn’t awesome, but it was a decent day — at 4 o’clock I probably got 30 phone calls asking for guns and firearms and they’d be within the hour of me closing,” Jordan said. “It was just ‘I’m coming over,’ ‘I’m coming over,’ ‘I’m coming over,’ and I’m like ‘OK, you better get here in an hour because I’m closing at 5.’ ‘Oh yeah, I’ll be there.'”

Sales had been steadily good at G3 since the COVID-19 pandemic began, but Jordan, son of store owner Chris Jordan, said there has been a “slight spike” since the Nov. 3 election and the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

While G3 isn’t the only firearms dealer in the Lewiston/Auburn area to see steady, increased sales since the pandemic started more than 10 months ago, its customers’ reaction to recent events isn’t necessarily shared by other stores.

“We had little spikes, but nothing to say that ‘Oh my god!’” Coastal Defense of Auburn owner Rick LaChapelle said. “Every time Congress starts talking about banning something, there’s usually a big run, of whatever they’re talking about banning.”

LaChapelle said those spikes happened throughout last year’s campaign season, too.

“Once the debates were done on the Democratic side, and then it got into the presidential debates, then it got crazy again. And then after the election, yes, we saw a spike, there’s no question about it,” he added. “But it tapers down, and then it goes back up. So it’s all coming in waves right now.”

John Reid, owner of J.T. Reid’s Gun Shop at 86 Court St. in Auburn, said sales at his store have actually slowed down a little since the election, but business is still good. It’s going well enough, in fact, that Reid purchased land on outer Minot Avenue with plans to build a long-awaited new store.

Sales at J.T. Reid’s have been really good in general throughout the pandemic, but Reid said supply has been an issue, namely ammo.

John Reid, owner of J.T. Reid’s Gun Shop in Auburn, said having a Democrat in the Oval Office is the best advertising that gun shops can have. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Coastal Defense at 179 High St. in Auburn has been limiting how much ammo customers can buy, so other customers aren’t left hanging dry.

“Ammo shortage is huge this year, and it has been all year,” Nick, a manager at Coastal Defense, said.

“No, we’ve been regulating it, making sure it gets distributed to everybody that wants to come in,” he added. “There are a lot of people that just want to shoot for fun, and it’s like ‘Yup, we can sell you a box or two,’ that way everybody can get a little bit.’ Maine is a big shooting sports community, the whole state of Maine. It’s all about hunting and sport shooting. We are not really catering to anybody that’s trying to hoard.”

Nick said customers have generally been understanding of that policy.

LaChapelle said Nick spends almost all of his day on the phone trying to order more ammo.

At Daniel Buck Auctions at 501 Lisbon St. in Lisbon, a firearms dealer, a sign outside notifying customers of ammo in stock was a cause for impromptu business.

“Brakes were squealing as people went around the corner as soon as I put up the sign,” Daniel Buck Soules said.

Regarding ammo, Soules said: “There is no supply and the demand is huge. The shortage of toilet paper and ammunition started at the same time.”

A sign outside Daniel Buck Auctions in Lisbon advertises ammo. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The gun-sales business is going so well that it has become a major part of Soules’ efforts, with antique sales down.

“Everything is selling. Every day there’s guns going out of here,” Soules said. “We have two-dozen more guns coming next week.”

Soules attributed the increase in sales to both the pandemic and politics.

Jordan said his customers have also been buying “whatever they can get right now.”

“I would say it’s whatever they can get their hands on because going back to COVID, it’s been pretty hard to get stuff, period, since COVID broke out. Ammo, guns, whatever,” Jordan added. So it’s kind of like whatever they see — I mean, I’ve had people that were looking for ammo, they couldn’t get it for their gun that they currently own, and then they’ll buy a completely new gun because we have the ammo on the shelf.”

Many of G3’s customers have been buying for protection, Jordan said, but also out of fear “that stuff is going to get banned.”

He said new customers have gone all-in on purchases. That sometimes has meant buying multiple guns. He attributed some of the ammo shortage to new customers buying more than what they might have needed.

At Coastal Defense, Nick said he’s seen sales more attributed to shooting as a sport and “mostly due to people just being at home bored.”

“So they’re like, ‘You know what, I’m going to take up shooting,'” Nick added.

LaChapelle said hunting firearms and ammo have also been flying on the shelves and getting more in stock has proven difficult.

“A lot of the hunting rifles are just gone, and I can’t get ammunition for hunting rounds,” he added. “The hunting rounds is what’s shocking to me that the ammunition is just not available and it’s hard to find.”

“A lot of stuff is not logical right now (in regards to sales trends)” LaChapelle said. “The industry is not logical.”

Sun Journal photographer Daryn Slover contributed to this story.

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