Ohio Gun Stores Deal with Coronavirus Shutdown in Different Ways
Ohio's "stay at home" order in response to the coronavirus outbreak mandates that "non-essential" businesses cease operations from 11:59 p.m. March 23, 2020, to 11:59 p.m. April 6, 2020.
While the order makes an exception for firearm and ammo retailers, among other businesses, some gun stores have decided to close.
L.E.P.D. Firearms & Range in Columbus, issued a statement about closing their store:
[excerpt] - At this time, we have decided to align ourselves with our peers in Central Ohio and close L.E.P.D. retail store, range & training facility until at least March 30th, 2020 in order to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19. This closure will take effect on Sunday March 22nd. We are currently evaluating how we may serve customers individually who have items on layaway, with the gunsmith or on NICS delay and will be reaching out to each of these customers early next week. We have also started reaching out individually to OPOTA & LEOSA students to provide some options for maintaining your certifications during this time.
Vance Outdoors, with locations in Columbus, Hebron, and Obetz, made a similar decision:
[excerpt] - In light of the latest news and updates relating to the COVID-19 virus, we have decided it is in everyone’s best interest to close our retail locations to the public effective immediately. We plan to be closed at least through March 30th. We will continue to listen to Governor DeWine and the health-care experts' instructions and assess our re-opening date based on the information and recommendations at hand.
Other gun stores, including Cabela's in north Columbus, Aumiller Gun Shop in Westerville, and AimHi in New Albany, have decided to stay open, though with slightly different hours. AimHi will also be limiting the number of customers in the store.
Black Wing Shooting Center in Delaware is thinking outside the box and following the lead of many restaurants in Ohio, offering customers "carry out" and curbside service to balance customer health with access to firearms and ammo. Here's a statement and video from Mark Gore, Retail Manager of Black Wing Shooting Center:
We are happy that our governor had that foresight to include firearm and ammunition retailers in the “Necessary Business” category of his Stay at Home order. We feel that in times of uncertainty, the ability to protect yourself and your family is the most important objective.
The last two weeks have been the busiest Black Wing has seen in years. We have introduced hundreds of new gun owners into responsible gun ownership every day as well as supplied existing gun owners. We have seen incredible demand for defensive firearms and ammo and have been happy to outfit our community with the supplies needed to protect themselves. The recent rush to purchase guns has created many new gun owners, some of whom may have never held a gun until now. As the resource for firearms safety in the community, it is imperative that people have access to exercise their fundamental rights and know they can get instruction and the tools they need to do that safely. That includes locks, safes, the correct ammunition and knowledgeable advice.
In order to keep both our staff and our community as safe as possible, we have decided to limit our store to carry out and curbside pickup. All sales will continue to be processed in the same manner but in a way to vastly reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Customers will pull into our parking lot and text our phone number to “get in line”. Once it is their turn, we will call them in one at a time. Though this means we will be unable to serve many customers that need to browse the store, it will allow us to supply many in need.
We are very excited to offer this carry out service of firearms and ammunition as our way to serve the community in a way that is low risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus.
Every gun store must make their own decision, of course, but it is worth noting that the Second Amendment is designed expressly for times of crisis.
Our Founding Fathers had the foresight and wisdom to explicitly list the right to keep and bear arms as one of our enumerated natural rights in the U.S. Constitution because it is human nature, and the nature of government, to infringe on individual rights at exactly the moment when their exercise is most important.
Dean Rieck is Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association, a former competitive shooter, NRA Patron Member, #1 NRA Recruiter for 2013, business owner and partner with Second Call Defense.