Jim Perkins has been busy the last few weeks.

That’s because, amid the coronavirus pandemic, he’s sold roughly triple the number of guns he typically sells around this time of year.

“All they want is something for home protection. … I guess they’re scared about people stealing their food and toilet paper,” Perkins said with a laugh.

On a more serious note, Perkins — owner of Retic Arms near Adamstown — and other gun shop owners in and near Frederick said coronavirus news has caused more customers to visit their shops in the past two weeks or so, looking for weapons for self-defense.

Perkins said he has sold pretty much all of his inventory, mostly shotguns. Many customers have been first-time buyers, who need instruction on how to properly store, operate and clean a gun.

Robert Wilson, owner of the Stateline Gun Exchange in Emmitsburg, also said he’s seen an increase in sales. That’s been important, he added — because he’s had to cancel other events that typically bring in a decent amount of income, he said.

The added sales at the store have helped make up for that loss, Wilson said.

“We’re always busy, but it’s definitely been an increase in business,” he said. “People are concerned about their Second Amendment rights being infringed upon, and they’re stocking up due to the coronavirus.”

There was also concern and confusion that gun shops would be considered a non-essential business and ordered to close, given an executive order Gov. Larry Hogan issued Monday. A spokesman for Hogan said that gun shops were exempt from the order.

Both R&R Guns and Ammo in Brunswick and The Gun Shack/Crosswind in Mount Airy had voice mail recordings Tuesday that stated they were closing due to the order issued by Hogan. Ro Lipscomb, owner of R&R Guns and Ammo, posted on the store’s Facebook page he would be closed through March 30.

On Wednesday, The Gun Shack’s message was changed to state that it would reopen, with a maximum of 10 people in the store at a time.

Bill Kelley, owner of the Gun Center in Frederick, also said he was preparing to shut down at 5 p.m. Monday. After consulting with Maryland State Police, however, he determined he could remain open.

Many people who have bought guns the past few weeks are looking for home protection, Kelley said. He joked that household item shortages are making the situation more dire.

“They come in with a panicked look on their face. ... They’re anxious and whatnot,” Kelley said. “When you find out you can’t buy toilet paper, you realize the world is coming to an end.”

Kelley and other shop owners said people are buying shotguns and other long guns because, as long as the customer passes an instant background check, they can take the gun home the same day. Handguns require a seven-day waiting period per state law.

“Their first question is, what can I get today?” Kelley said. “And that stuff is pretty much cleaned out.”

There’s also the issue of if you’re a small shop, like Retic Arms. Perkins said he pretty much sold out of most of his inventory the past few weeks.

“I have my loyal customers, and most of them are stocked,” he said.

Security and ensuring calm was also a concern for Kelley. He thanked the Frederick Police Department for helping monitor activity around the store the past couple of weeks.

“We had a couple days where it looked like Best Buy on Black Friday. ... When you’re dealing with a product we sell, sometimes it’s nice to have a badge present once in a while,” Kelley said.

He and others, however, said it’s important that all gun owners know how to use their weapons, especially first-time buyers.

That included Wilson, who estimated that 40 percent of his customers in the last few weeks have been first-time buyers.

“There’s more to it for us than just selling a gun to somebody because they want one,” he said. “They have to be going to responsible citizens, and people have to know what they’re doing.”

Follow Steve Bohnel on Twitter: @Steve_Bohnel.

Steve Bohnel is the county government reporter for the Frederick News-Post. He can be reached at sbohnel@newspost.com. He graduated from Temple University, with a journalism degree in May 2017, and is a die-hard Everton F.C. fan.

(59) comments


The left is gnashing their teeth


Shucks, I gave my guns away. Don't we live in a civilized country. Are these people afraid that they will be attacked. Why in the world do they feel it necessary to buy a gun. From reading the article it doesn't appear to be for hunting.


Some people may be buying a gun in case they decide murder/suicide will be the answer.


This article is quite biased as to why people are purchasing guns, and specifically shotguns, right now. I'm sure it couldn't be that (1) the democrats in the Maryland General Assembly once again introduced a bill to make the purchase, ownership, and transfer of long guns (rifles and shotguns) as restrictive as handguns (better get them before MGA comes back in session); (2) Trap season (shooting, with a shotgun, round clay discs that are thrown by mechanical means into the air) typically begins April 1. Several gun clubs in the area have benefit shoots where a portion of the fees for competitive shooting are given to non-profit groups or individuals facing severe medical needs; (3) Spring turkey hunting season also begins in April. Additionally, there is nothing wrong with owning a firearm for self-defense but it is important to learn how to properly handle and shoot it. There are excellent courses and instructors in the area.


What we all have in common is that we want to keep our loved ones safe and our possessions secure. That is a good thing. Sadly, and contrary to what we may think, we become less safe when a firearm is brought into a home. With all the first-time gun buyers this is especially alarming. With a jump in gun sales, it is likely that we will see an increase in suicide (due to the economy and social isolation) and homicide (especially domestic violence), and more unintentional deaths of children. Please help new owners know the risks, get training, and help them acquire gun locks (available at the Sheriff’s office).


Apocalypses time? No, just they just watched too many episodes of The Walking Dead or listened to too many right wing talk shows.


Now I'm trying to think of the last time there was an incident of a home/gun owner protecting his family from toilet paper thieves. Was that Charles Manson?


Love me a good shoot out during a plague.

Been so busy preparing to launch my campaign to run for county sheriff, I haven’t had time to get the guns out and get them fire ready.

Obadiah Plainsmen

The top 4 items Americans are having trouble with controlling, Climate, COVID19 , Gun Sales, Fear.


Liberalism is a disease and Democrats destroy everything they touch.


I think the same thing about conservatism. I guess we need a civil war to sort it out.


Sounds like you might wanna go get some guns..🤔


Kstr, Did you have a bad childhood experience? Maybe that is what damaged you.[sad]


Go to church Eastern Sunday, your cult hero says it is okay.

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Just curious, do you sleep with your tinfoil hat on or do you put it on when you wake up each morning?


The Saturday after the 2008 election I attended an auction at he Frederick Fairgrounds. That day there was also a gun show there and by 9:00AM there were over 500people in line to get in the gun show. I asked two of those people "what's up?' and they both said "Obama is going to take away our guns". Those tin-foil nuts are still out there stockpiling weapons for the coming revolution. Bob Lewis


I remember some people who bought a house in early 1993 because Clinton was going to drive mortgage interest rates through the roof.


What nation wouldn’t attack another nations that’s strangling it’s economy? If the president truly believes this is the China Virus what is he going to do about it? Stop writing checks you’re aren’t willing to backup Mr. Trump.


All trade wars in history have resulted in shooting wars. It appears by the Presidents remarks the USA and China are in a biological war. What did the president think would happen after economically disabling a nuclear biological weaponized nation with 1.6 billion people? What does China have to lose crippling our economy like we’ve crippled their economy?

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I hope these panic buyers take the time on the range to learn how to shoot and afterwards how to clean the weapon. Won't do them any good otherwise.


Agreed thump. The phrase " With great power comes great responsibility" If you purchase a firearm, you have an obligation to learn how to use it properly. At least take the online MD DNR hunter safety course, and then the practical exam at a participating range. NRA also has excellent beginners training courses around the country, including use of firearms in home protection situations.


Who are these folks planning to shoot? The virus? Are they really afraid for their toilet paper stash? Some people, in an emergency, think first of helping other people. Some people think first of ..... Well, I really don’t know what is going through their heads.


Plenty of studies out there have proven that hearing the sound of a gun being cocked on its own will send criminals running. Same with simply presenting the weapon confidently and giving the standard "Stop or I WILL shoot." Someone who has no comfort with it can be recognized by someone who does and have the situation blow up in their face though, if you're going to point a gun at someone you better be able and willing to use it.


Wake up. You, in your ivory throne, do not realize that in times of crisis, some people can and have done anything to survive. There are many low lifes and illegals in you community that will quickly take what's yours for themselves.


What is it that you exactly have that low life’s and illegals would want?


Whatever they want to take.


I wish we could add likes to these posts.


You can, just give a thumb up from emoticons.


Gun shops remain open while gardening stores/nurseries are shut down as “non-essential”. What is wrong with this picture?


surprised they are closed, since landscapers are still working.


I bet most people who walk into the average gun store for the first time do not realize that MD requires 1 week wait, a background check and a HQL license to buy a handgun. All ranges are closed due to the virus so they can only get shotguns. That probably a good thing for they are less likely to shoot themselves with a shotgun even though it of course can happen.


Last I heard it was a 10 day background check but I'm more concerned about the real tin foil types who refuse to go through the legal process because they fear government confiscation so much. Some of them will be laid out by the black market dealers certainly but who knows what kind of equipment they'll have access to that way if they put up enough money.


Just checked, it still 7 days. Been a little while since I bought a handgun. https://lawcenter.giffords.org/waiting-periods-in-maryland/


i've bought more records during this because i convinced myself it's to "help the record stores in a time of need" when really it's just because i like records. this is no different. guns are toys for overgrown man-children who like to cosplay being soldiers when they wouldn't in a millions years actually sign up to fight in the wars they champion from their couches


Perfectly stated.


An enigma for Trump and republicans is that racist groups including neo-Nazis and other white supremacists are urging people in their ranks to contract the coronavirus in order to infect Jews and police officers.



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Kelp is good for bowel movements. You’ll need lots of TP. 😉

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Alice Jones

I'm sure their hands will be at the trough


Please tell me how gun shops are an essential business!

The Grape of Wrath

The gun buyers are spending their maga checks before they arrive.

The Grape of Wrath

Who are these people planning to shoot? Are they afraid somebody will break into their homes while they are sleeping to steal their food and toilet paper?

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The Grape of Wrath

You gotta admit that white men have a whole different reaction when they see black men carrying guns than when they see other whites carrying guns. White man with gun = pat on the back; black man with gun = call the police.


No need to decry people who want to keep their selves and their families safe in that 1% chance that things go completely haywire.. If you dont want to buy a weapon, then dont buy a weapon. Just dont ridicule people who do.

The Grape of Wrath

How does a gun do that?


I betcha your weapon of choice is a bow and arrow.




“Just dont ridicule people who do.”

Ridicule is an appropriate response to the ridiculous.

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Do these people think the zombie (kelly) apocalypse is coming?


How is a gun shop considered an essential business?


they are crying about the 2nd amendment.


Yea, I was kind of wondering about that. I guess if you are willing to shoot someone over a roll of toilet paper, then guns and ammo would be just above food and water on your list.


The left unified effort to sew fear has backfired again. Even more in the hands of the deplorables. The leftists are real geniuses. Cheers

The Grape of Wrath

I would say the one sewing fear are the the ones buying the guns.


"sew" fear? are they sewing it into a quilt? a fear quilt?

[since sarcasm will likely go over your head, the word you were looking for is "sow" -- as in planting seeds. hence, "you reap (harvest) what you sow"]

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