HOLDEN – States all over the country are grappling with determining what businesses are essential and gun and ammo shops are caught in the crosshairs.
In half a dozen states, including Connecticut, gun stores have been deemed essential. Leaders in other states have flip-flopped on the issue. Meanwhile, in Maine, gun and ammo shops remain open for the time being.
“It’s essential in terms of public safety,” said Matt Collins, owner of Downeast Ammo in Holden.
“Sometimes you may have to have things to protect yourself in your home ahead of time,” said Ryan Nyer, president of Maine Military Supply, just down the street. “You know the gas mask, protective equipment, food supplies and firearms. Those are kind of the basic essentials. We have to be able to be safe, we have to be able to be warm. We have to be able to defend our families.
“That’s essential for everybody to live,” he said.
In an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus leaders from more than 25 states — including governor Mills — have closed all nonessential businesses.
“The list of essential businesses were a little vague on some things but they referred to the federal government, the Department of Homeland Security had a list and it includes certain defense industry businesses,” said Collins.
In Pennsylvania, gun right advocates sued the governor, who said gun stores were nonessential. The case was dismissed but on Tuesday Gov. Tom Wolf allowed gun shops to reopen.
Just like toilet paper and sanitizer, gun and ammunition sales have skyrocketed in recent weeks.
“It’s been an 800-percent increase in sales the last week and week before,” Collins said.
Maine Military Supply is restricting the number of people who can enter the store, and is offering curbside pickup of some items. They did close the gun range to the public.
“However, because law enforcement and government contracts are still training and utilizing that range we have kept that open for those services,” Nyer said. “They do not get a break they do not get a two-week quarantine. They have to still train they have to stay proficient.”
He added, “We feel that it’s important that families in our communities are able to protect themselves and get the equipment to stay safe.”