Are gun stores an “essential” business in times of emergency?
More than 2,000 buyers answered in the affirmative at Lincoln City Sporting Goods during the opening weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, clearing the shelves and walls of firearms at the usually well-stocked dealer.
On Saturday, March 20, owner Bruce Polvi closed the business to walk-in traffic in order to process a backlog of 1,700 background checks. The doors opened only to deliver firearms to buyers who cleared the normally-instant FBI criminal investigation, which has bogged down under a nationwide rush for protective weaponry.
“We’ve had orders for nearly 2,400 guns in total in a county of 45,000 people,” Polvi said, adding that he also sold nearly 750,000 rounds of ammunition. “A lot of them are first-time buyers who are surprised to learn that we actually have a background check. The media has built up the impression that we don’t have them.”
Polvi, whose advertising claims “more guns than the Nicarauguan Army,” said the surge of buyers was abetted by a rush of customers from Washington, who are prohibited from buying handguns out-of-state by local laws but were able to purchase long guns: shotguns, hunting rifles and semi-automatics collectively known as ‘ARs.’
“They said they came down to escape the ‘hot zone,’” he remarked.
One of the buyers who was allowed to slip inside the store was a businessman from Depoe Bay, saying he purchased a Turkish-made, short-barreled shotgun with a 33-round clip and a semi-automatic .223-caliber rifle.
“People were pounding on the door and asking why he let us in, and not them,” the customer said. “He told them we were ‘law enforcement.’ They seemed desperate to arm themselves.”
Meanwhile, fishing seems to be one of the few activities not banned by government edict. There’s lots of elbow room on the rocky headlands for bank anglers, and at least one charter operation is running free trips for “subsistence fishing.”
Captain’s Reel Deep Sea Charters of Newport is offering daily excursions in order to stock local cupboards in time of economic crisis. The vessel will operate out of Depoe Bay, where the shorter run to the fishing grounds will cut the charter boat’s gas consumption in half.
“We’re donating our boat free of charge for anybody who wants to fish,” said skipper Dan Jennings, who operates the 40-foot Longfin for the owner, Barbara Powell. “Any person who goes out can realistically expect to catch 40 to 100 pounds of fish.”
Under state game laws, an angler may not sell or barter fish but can legally distribute the catch to friends and family. Jennings said the plan to run free fishing trips was endorsed by a senior wildlife trooper.
“We’re running everything under the coronavirus mandates,” Jennings stated, adding that the 40-foot vessel would be limited to five anglers in order to enforce “social distancing” guidelines.
“This is a nonprofit venture, solely to benefit the community,” Jennings said. “It’s our way of giving back to the community.”
Jennings said he received permission from Depoe Bay Mayor Robert Gambino to sail on “humanitarian missions” from the otherwise closed harbor.
“I want to make it clear this is not an attempt to skirt the law,” Jennings said. “We’re just trying to bring a needed resource to the community.”
For more information, call Jennings at 541-921-7055.