Gun shop hopes recent surge in sales helps them get through slow period during stay at home order

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During this time of uncertainty, gun and ammunition sales are on the rise.

Police in both Minneapolis and St. Paul said recently they've been seeing much higher numbers for permit to purchase applications.

For nearly a two week stretch at Bill's Gun Shop and Range, it was almost hard to keep up.

"It was probably three times the volume that we would normally see," said John Monson, owner of Bill's Gun Shop and Range.

Monson said he believes the coronavirus pandemic put people in a panic and many worried about being locked inside, wondering how they're going to protect themselves.

"We just saw a ton of traffic," Monson said.

Minneapolis and St. Paul police also saw a major increase in permit to purchase applications. MPD reported 109 more than this same time last year while St. Paul Police had 153 applications during one week in the middle of March, up from their average about 31 applications a week in 2020.

"We saw a ton of first-time buyers," Monson said.

But then, Gov. Tim Walz put the stay at home order into effect, and despite being considered an essential business, things changed at Bill's.

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"We get a trickle of business coming through but it's slow," Monson said.

This all comes at a time when there's a national debate on whether gun shops should even be open. But Minnesota law made that clear in 2015.

"Mainly, it required that gun shops would need to stay open if the governor declared a state of emergency," said Kurt Daudt, House Minority Leader.

But a petition is spreading across the country to keep gun shops closed saying, "firearms won't make people safer in the face of this pandemic."

"We understand that's their point of view but during a time of emergency that's not a time to play politics," Daudt said.

Even with the doors open, Bill's Gun Shop and Range is adjusting by closing on Sundays and shutting down ranges.

"When our ranges closed that really put the brakes on for us because our range business and training is a big element for us," Monson said.

Like many businesses, they're also figuring out what the new normal will look like, and for how long.