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Gun stores still open

Thanks to the designation as an essential business, gun shops in Pike County remain open and busy.

“People are thinking the worst and they need protection,” said Family Firearm owner Sonnie Parker.

That translates to guns and ammunition for many people.

Ammunition has been in high demand all over the country since the coronavirus outbreak began in February. Because of that, Family Firearms has had to change how they sell ammo to their customers.

“Before we knew what was happening we were running out of ammo,” Parker said. “We have a lot on order, but because everyone is fighting over ammo, it’s allocated. We are having to limit it to where the only time you can buy ammo is if you’re buying a firearm.”

And while supplies of ammunition have been limited, the purchasing of firearms has skyrocketed thanks to online sales. However, distributors are taking up to two weeks to fulfill some orders.

“Their warehouses are that backlogged,” Parker said. “There are a lot of people that work in those warehouses shipping guns. They are working skeleton crews in some of these warehouses. They are trying to get help, but they are so backlogged it’s taking that long to process. If it’s not in our inventory, it’s probably two weeks before we see it.”

Orders aren’t the only thing being slowed. Background checks that normally took a little less than a week are now taking up to the three weeks.

“Normally, it will be four to five days,” Parker said. “Some people are approved right away and the walk out with a firearm. If they are delayed, they will be delayed longer than they normally are.”

Background checks were up 300 percent on March 16, compared with the same date a year ago, according to federal data shared with the NSSF, which represents gunmakers. Since Feb. 23, each day has seen roughly double the volume over 2019, according to Mark Oliva, spokesman for the group.

Parker said his staff is making sure proper measures are taken to ensure the health and safety of customers and staff.

“We’re only allowing two people in our store at one time,” Parker said. “It’s by appointment only. Whenever they come into the store, the first thing we have them do is use the hand sanitizer. Before and after they touch anything we want them to use sanitizer. It’s not only for their protection, but for the staff.”

Mike Hensley and the Associated Press contributed to this report