WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Amid panic buying at grocery stores and pharmacies during the coronavirus crisis, a noticeable run on guns and ammunition is also happening in Pennsylvania and across the country.
Piestrak’s Gun Shop is typically busy during hunting season or when there are concerns that tougher gun regulations might go into place, but employees at the store say they have never seen business boom as much as it has during the coronavirus crisis.
Manny Gonzalez, a gun buyer, says he wants to be better armed with more than just a protective mask and gloves during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m purchasing because of the food shortage,” Gonzalez said. “People get desperate when food is not readily available. If you go to the supermarkets, you see the shelves get smaller and smaller. We’ll get to a point where people start going crazy. So, I just want to be prepared for that.”
Gonzalez is among a rapidly growing number of customers lately. The man who started this business in 1972 has never seen anything like it.
“Over this illness that’s going around now, business has increased quite a bit,” Edward Piestrak, co-owner of Piestrak’s Gun Shop said.
He says three times the usual amount of customers per day are filling this gun shop. Many of them are women.
“They’re home more because the children are out of school so they figure they need more protection since they’re in the house,” Piestrak said.
Ariela Karpovich of Hanover Township has a friend who recently purchased a gun.
“She was mainly concerned about if this were to extend over a two-week period and people will be out of work, people will try and break into their houses,” Karpovich told Eyewitness News.
Piestrak has advice for anyone thinking about buying a gun or ammo: get it while you can.
“Right now, all our distributors, no one has 9 mm ammunition. 45s, 22s… everything is like, it’s gone,” Piestrak said.
While Piestrak’s is well-stocked, it is limiting 100 rounds per customer until this coronavirus crisis blows over. As for weapons sales, handguns far and away lead the list followed by shotguns and rifles.