At Big Bear, rush on guns driven by fear

At Big Bear, rush on guns driven by fear

Big Bear co-owners Andre Mendes, left, and Will Worthy are working non-stop to keep up the pace with the increased demand of firearms and ammunition in response to the coronavirus. (Breeze photo by Jacquelyn Moorehead)

GLOCESTER – Shops across the country are seeing guns and ammunition sell out, a trend driven by fear of the unknown.

Will Worthy, owner of Big Bear Hunting and Fishing, said his shop has been out of ammunition for more than a week, and overall stock is down to 25 percent, or around 105 guns.

People are worried about the potential for looting of their homes, Worthy said. Gun buyers are worried about what could happen if the food chain stops, and though he hopes that doesn’t happen, the Second Amendment was created to protect people’s right to protect themselves.

According to Worthy, he is seeing many new customers he describes as “left-wing Democrats who hate guns who are coming in to buy guns.” Some are opting to not handle the gun before purchasing it, he said.

“They just want to take it home and hope they never have to use it,” he said.

Worthy said there has been about 300 percent growth in gun and ammunition sales since the COVID-19 outbreak, causing the shop to sell out of ammunition.

“Ammo sales are out through the entire country,” he said.

The increase in sales is unprecedented, according to Worthy. He said he has never seen sales like this before, and other local shop owners are seeing the same thing.

“What you’re seeing in Rhode Island is what you’re seeing in every single town across the country,” he said.

Most people are coming from elsewhere, stating that they’ve heard good things about the shop, said Worthy. He said he has also sold out of every crossbow and compound bow in the store.

Worthy said the majority of new customers are single women and mothers who want to protect their family. Many are looking to purchase home defense weapons such as shotguns, he said.

“They’re looking for anything to protect their home. It’s home defense,” he said.

In many circumstances, he sees people come in and point at a weapon and ask to purchase it without asking any questions. He said many are unaware of safeguards in place to prevent putting firearms in the hands of dangerous people.

The state requires a blue card to ensure that gun owners are educated in safety. Big Bear offers a 50-question test in the shop as well as study guides. Worthy said the shop has very few denials due to background checks.

Local police departments have been inundated with background check requests for new potential gun owners applying for a license. Before the recent uptick in sales, local departments had seven days to return a background check to gun shops. Gov. Gina Raimondo has extended that timeline by 30 days.

Responding to feedback from the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association regarding the current strain on their resources, the governor yesterday signed an executive order extending from seven to 30 days the time period in which police departments can conduct background checks for firearm purchases, stated Raimondo in a March 21 release.

The drawback to an uptick in demand, said Worthy, is that he’s not sure when he’ll be able to restock his store.

“The entire country is out. Those sales might not be there because you can’t sell what you don’t have,” he said.

Increased gun sales are good for stores, but some anti-violence advocates are warning that guns don’t necessarily make people safer.

Staff at the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence said they’re “extremely concerned” by the trend showing online gun sales jumping nearly 70 percent.

“The reality is, Americans are reacting to the public health crisis of COVID-19 by feeding another leading public health crisis in America: gun violence,” stated a release. “Although we do not yet know how this increase in gun sales will impact rates of household violence in America, we do know that having a gun in one’s home does not institute safety.

“In fact, owning a gun or having a gun in your home puts you at a higher risk of suicide death, homicide death, or death by accidental detonation,” it adds.

The group praised the governor for extending the waiting period to 30 days.


Apparently ammunition can somehow "detonate", according to the unnamed writer for the Coalition against Gun Violence. The author also writes that owning a gun puts you at higher risk of suicide death and this is patently false; does gun ownership somehow initiate random suicides? And, the group praised the governor for extending the waiting period to 30 days and this statement is also false - the governor extended the period of time to complete background checks to 30 days. Police departments can do them as fast as they wish -UP TO 30 days. You always have to read carefully when these anti- gunners write anything.

Guns always go hand in hand with people who are afraid. Guns are not a solution. I applaud the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence and really hope that regardless of political-based biases that we understand weapons in incapable hands are infinitely worse for society than the worst health emergency.

Derrick, I agree that washing one's hand and face is a good practice. However, that won't keep you safe should someone try and break into your home and harm your family. Next, I'm not sure what "political based biases" have to do with your Constitutional right to bear arms. And, I'm not sure what you mean by "weapons in incapable hands." Who decides who is "capable?" I agree that folks who have been convicted of serious felonies are "incapable" and folks who suffer from mental distress are "incapable", but other than that every law abiding adult is capable, so I don't see a problem with folks purchasing a firearm for themselves. Guns have been a solution throughout time:

---They were a solution to end England's tyranny over us.
---They were a solution to end the war of 1812
---The were a solution to end WWI
---They were a solution to end WWII
---They are a solution hundreds of thousands of times per year when law abiding citizens protect themselves and this is the most important right - the right to protect oneself and one's family. You may choose to not exercise your 2nd Amendment right, but I'll choose differently.

When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

I'm concerned about selling a gun to someone to afraid to handle it in the shop, but I guess legally you must if they earned their blue card. I hope you referred them to a source for training and competency. Safe gun ownership is more than the 50 question test. I was fearful for decades before deciding to become empowered as a middle aged woman. I trained before I purchased. I continue to train.
Also, Mr. Worthy,please don't politicize this. PLENTY of us on "the left" are gun owners/sportsmen&women/hunters/enthusiasts. Check out the Liberal Gun Club online. They're just not radical and full of lobbyists, money, and propaganda like the NRA.
Be well everyone!

Sadly, the issue of firearms are now politicized to absolutes, and any questioning of them assigns negatives to you by certain people. Left or right, firearms are incredibly dangerous in irresponsible people regardless of political affiliation. Gun control is needed and should be supported regardless of direction, color, or any other bucket you put yourself in. Repeating talking points from domestic Russian-backed terrorist organizations will not reduce the lethal consequences of a firearm in an irresponsible hand. Irresponsibility includes thinking 'looters are coming' when there's literally no evidence of that. Quite the opposite - we are stronger when we come together as community and do not let fear dictate our actions.

Or, just hoard toilet paper and guns.