Business & Economy

Guns and ammo in high demand as coronavirus cases increase

Andrea Jones scans DVDs from the overnight return box at Nancy’s Video in Irasburg on June 20, 2019. The store shares space with a gun shop, Green Mountain Sporting Goods. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

In the past five days, Green Mountain Sporting Goods has sold more ammunition than it normally moves in a month.

That’s according to David White, who works in the Irasburg gun shop that doubles as a video rental store.

“We’re starting to limit certain amounts of ammo per caliber per customer,”  White said Tuesday, “just so everybody will have a chance to be able to pick up ammo.”

The Northeast Kingdom outlet is one of many that’s seen a sharp uptick in sales since the COVID-19, or coronavirus, pandemic has seized the nation in recent weeks. Shoppers have been buying out stocks of supplies as concerns have risen over the spread of the virus — notably toilet paper

Firearm-related goods have been no exception.

Customers have been “talking about how everything is going short,” said White, describing the “super influx” the store has seen. “They’re in the panic of everything going on in the country right now.” On Friday, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency.

Researchers have noted a nationwide trend of gun sales spiking in the wake of mass shootings — partly out of concern that tighter restrictions are coming — and instability in general pushes people toward stockpiling. Federal data shows the number of firearm background checks in Vermont for this January and February has increased by several hundred each compared to the same months in 2019.

As Gov. Phil Scott was preparing to sign new gun control regulations into law in 2018, Henry Parro saw that trend play out in his Waterbury Store, Parro’s Gun Shop and Police Supplies.

And the same is happening now, he said Tuesday. 

VTDigger is underwritten by:

“Well, uh, it’s crazy,” he said, almost incredulous. “It’s been extremely busy; it’s been almost like Black Friday all over.”

Parro, who spoke to Seven Days on Monday, said the store has seen nonstop traffic since the middle of last week and that it’s been rising along the way. “We don’t get time to eat lunch anymore,” he said.

The customers are coming from further away than usual, he said, and many of them — new to firearms — are driven by fear.

“People fear getting isolated and not having means to protect themselves or their families if people were to come to take their supplies,” Parro said.

Shoppers in his store are buying 9mm rounds, a common ammunition for handguns, and 12-gauge shotguns are popular, too, he said.

How’s the rush impacted his stock?

“Well, being one of the largest gun shops in Vermont, I have pretty good supply,” Parro said. “It’s starting to show wear and tear, but we’re still stocked.”

The picture is a bit different for White at Green Mountain Sporting Goods.

Sales boosts there have mostly centered around ammo —  9mm, .45- and .223-caliber — and not guns, he said. 

“But as of now it’s getting hard to restock,” White said. “Whole country’s in the same boat.”

And the surge isn’t necessarily welcome. 

“No matter what, I’d rather see a nice even keel that you can plan for,” Parro said. “Huge spikes create huge valleys.” 

He expects a quiet summer at the rate sales have been going.

White wants people not to panic, and he said the store plans to stay open. 

“We’re going to be here to serve the community for whatever their needs are,” he said. “We’re not going to fear it.”

Want to stay on top of the latest business news? Sign up here to get a weekly email on all of VTDigger's reporting on local companies and economic trends. And check out our new Business section here.


VTDigger's comprehensive Covid-19 coverage relies on your financial support. Become a member today.

Justin Trombly

About Justin

Justin Trombly covers the Northeast Kingdom for VTDigger. Before coming to Vermont, he handled breaking news, wrote features and worked on investigations at the Tampa Bay Times, the largest newspaper in Florida. He grew up across Lake Champlain in upstate New York, where he worked for The Buffalo News, the Glens Falls Post-Star and the Plattsburgh Press Republican. He studied English and political science at the University of Rochester.

Email: [email protected]

Reader Footnotes

Please help move our stories forward with information we can use in future articles.

Readers must submit actual first and last names and email addresses in order for notes to be approved. We are no longer requiring readers to submit user names and passwords.

We have a limit of 1,000 characters. We moderate every reader note.

Notes about other readers’ points of view will not be accepted. We will only publish notes responding to the story.

For more information, please see our guidelines. Please go to our FAQ for the full policy.

About voting: If you see voting totals jump when you vote on comments, this indicates that other readers have been voting at the same time.
17 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
17 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Gary Murdock

The governor should exercise his newly discovered authoritarian power and just…close these businesses down. Protesting school kids demand it.

Jenny Kingsbury

I’ll damn well defend my toilet paper and hand sanitizer!

Robert Kenney

Funny, when it gets scary, people go for guns and toilet paper, the essentials for survival and comfort.

Andree Sanborn

To top it all off, I’ve heard children repeating rumors (presumably heard at home) that martial law is about to be imposed . . . so they all need to be prepared. This is now a bad dystopian movie.

Karen McIlveen1

There was an article regarding the rampant release of offenders from correctional facilities which seemed to disappear. There has been civil unrest, which has been kept on the down low, so people are probably concerned about their personal safety and the well being of their families.
Too many zombie movies or just preparedness? Guess it’s a matter of perspective.

Thaddeus Cline

This just lifts up the chances people will commit suicide with a gun that’s alway more successful than any other method.
This just lifts up the possibility that another school shooting will happen.
And that more harm will be done and we will see more people in emergency rooms not over communicable disease , but gun harm.
More husbands, and boyfriends will have that many more things around to threaten women with. And if as many times happens it dose not get reported to the authorities , so woman will suffer mental health problems the rest of their lives not to mention their children.
Little regulation and more guns only means more trouble.
The one thing we know that stops gun crime is to stop multiple gun sales in one day .
But a small Minority in Vt. will block any rule like that . Because our Governor refuses to look at the research or listen to our past experts from Harvard explain things.
This kind of fear is caused by cults and people who know how to use cults

Steve Allen

I am a firm believer in the Second Amendment and a shooting range safety officer. That being said, to all the new firearms owners out there PLEASE get some training on the use of your newly purchased firearm. Irresponsible use of firearms due to a lack of understanding and training will get you into trouble very fast and innocent people hurt.


Preacher man says its the end of time and the Lamoille river she’s a runnin’ dry. Now I live back in the woods ya’ see, the women, the kids, the homestead and me. I can skin a buck, I can run a brookie line, country folk will survive. Country folk can survive.

Marianne Ward

When one feels stressed they turn to their addiction for comfort. Some of these posts expose gun ownership as possibly being an addiction.

Telly Halkias

When I see all the panic merchants in action today-those who should be calming the masses not agitating them-I thank God that our parents’ and grandparents’ generation was the collective citizenry that faced the homefront challenges of World War II. And that they didn’t have to deal with 24/7 from every self proclaimed experts on the Internet.

Stay safe out there everyone and peace be with you.

Don White

State police have already warned that they will be being very selective about what calls they respond to. Crimes will be committed and the police will not be showing up. Lots of politicians and commenters like to believe that using harsh langue will help. Being a victim is not part of the Vt or US Constitution. Being able to defend ones self and their family is part of the US and Vt Constitution.

William Farr

I demand my 2nd amendment toilet paper rights… Try taking my guns, but leave my toilet paper alone, LOL!
Tomorrow is spring, yippee… :~)

walter h moses

VT Digger: Please let everyone know when representative Lalonde or Baruth appear to buy a firearm. That would be the ultimate irony.

luke lamone

Anyone who normally does not keep enough food for his family to survive for at least a few months, fails to stock necessaries, fails to have enough $$ to get by for a few months and fails to have the means to adequately defend themselves or their family without waiting for the police to come (after the fact) has failed him/herself and their family.

Kathy Callaghan

I’m sure that bands of marauders will be coming for your hand sanitizer and toilet paper – not. Everyone needs to chill out. Try reaching out to help your neighbors instead of waving guns around.


People all over the country are discovering the truth about the anti-gun activists misconceptions about the availability and ease of purchasing a firearm . People have discovered that you can’t just buy a gun online and have it sent to your house. Californians are learning that the government makes them wait 10 days before they can protect their families. Others are learning that local and state politicians require a state approved license to purchase a firearm. California also requires background checks to buy ammunition. They also find that you can not buy a firearm at a gun show without a background check and must file a form 4473 which is required for all legal firearms purchases. The country is learning that the anti-second amendment media has been telling lies about how easy it is to buy a firearm. You can window shop online and purchase a firearm but it must be shipped to a federally licensed dealer and a background check must be completed before the sale is completed in person.

Patrick Finnie

Roll your own ! A press, powder, scales, primers, bullets, and a manual is all you need. It’s safe ,cheap, and fun too !


Recent Stories

Thanks for reporting an error with the story, "Guns and ammo in high demand as coronavirus cases increase"