/ Articles / Lakeland area gun shops see large increase in sales
COVID-19 fears prompting purchases, creating ammunition shortage
Chuck Dicka, owner of Hunter’s Headquarters in Woodruff, is keeping pretty busy lately.
Ammunition sales were fairly steady before restrictions by state officials brought about as a result of COVID-19, but now he said what he’s seeing is “a total panic.”
“People are calling me all day long about ammunition,” Dicka said. “They’re worried about running out of ammo and there’s none to be had.”
He said that’s because all the major warehouses and distribution centers are out of pistol and military type ammunition, such as .223 and .308.
Dicka said he can get high end hunting ammunition.
“But your basic ammo, like the standard .30-06 270, it’s gone,” he said.
As far as any type of idea as to a time frame Dicka might be able to get some of that ammunition he’s out of and can’t get his hands on, he said he doesn’t know when that will change.
“They (warehouses and distributors) don’t have a clue themselves,” he said. “They said it could be worse than the last time there was an ammo shortage. I believe that was in 2010 or 2011.”
While the H1N1 pandemic occurred in the 2010 time frame, the ammunition shortage Dicka was referring to actually began in 2008 with the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States in November of that year.
There was another shortage after that which was attributed by many to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December, 2012.
This time around, it’s COVID-19.
From an ammunition supply standpoint, Dicka said the warehouses and distributors he works with are “claiming this is much worse.”
“I couldn’t get any kind of ammo back then for six months,” he said. “This could be worse.”
Dicka said gun sales have also been brisk since the recent COVID-19 restrictions at the state level.
“I’m getting people in here who’ve never owned guns before who are wanting to purchase guns,” he said. “They’re worried about their safety and their security.”
In fact, Dicka said over half the people he had in his store last week were previously non-gun owners who were wanting to purchase a handgun.
Much of that, he said, along with fears people have about not being able to buy essentials, stems from the COVID-19 situation.
“They’re worried about protecting the stuff they do have,” Dicka said.
Last week was also a busy one for Minocqua’s North Coast Arms and Ammo, where customers were limited to three boxes of ammunition.
Jeremy MacAuliffe, son of store owner Tim MacAuliffe, also attributed the brisk sales to COVID-19.
“That would be my assumption,” he said. “It’s what people talk about.”
His sister, Jolene Swiontek, said the store has sold a lot of handguns in the past week.
“It’s been non-stop all this week,” she said Thursday, March 19. “Groups of five or 10 people at a time. I think they’re afraid that at some point, it’s gonna come to where they can’t get them.”
Swiontek, like Dicka at Hunter’s Headquarters, said they call in for more guns and ammunition to meet the demand of their customers.
“They’re few and far between,” she said.
Brian Jopek may be reached via email at [email protected]