Business & Economy

Vermont gun dealers say sales have spiked following Capitol riots

Firearms on display at Parro's Gun Shop in Waterbury. Photo by Jim Welch/VTDigger

Firearm sales have soared in Vermont since last week’s riots at the U.S. Capitol, according to local gun dealers. The uptick comes as President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration approaches and as Democrats are poised to take control of the U.S. Senate. 

According to John Cragin, owner of Cragin’s Gun Shop in Rutland, sales have “spiked drastically” since supporters of President Donald Trump ransacked the halls of Congress on Jan. 6. 

“We normally sell three or four a day and now we’re selling 10 or 12 a day in the last 10 days,” he said. “It’s still not as bad as it was back in the beginning of Covid, though.”

That’s in line with national trends. According to media reports, gun shops across the country have seen a similar rise in sales in the wake of last week’s chaos in Washington, D.C.

In a typical year, January is one of the slowest months for Vermont gun dealers, according to data collected by the FBI, but following a presidential election it’s not uncommon for sales to jump.

This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s not enough product to keep up with demand, Cragin said, and there hasn’t been for months. “Our distributors are telling us, ammo-wise, it will be over a year before they’re caught up, and they’re manufacturing as fast as they can,” he said.

Another possible reason for the spike? Vermonters have begun to receive $600 stimulus checks from the federal government, providing them with more disposable income.

“There’s been a big increase in customers — walk-in customers, orders coming in over the phone, internet shopping to our nationwide base,” said Silke Musik, owner of Ammo Warehouse in Barre. “But there’s a shortage everywhere. We’re lucky to have a lot of the caliber people are looking for.”

Ross Schacher of Lonely Mountain Arms in South Starksboro said the majority of his new customers hailed from outside of Vermont. “I advertised them on ARMSLIST and then shipped them out across the country,” he said, referring to the popular e-commerce site. “In Vermont, I haven’t noticed that much of an uptick. But I don’t have a shop on Main Street where someone can just walk by. I do everything by appointment only.”

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Vermont dealers appear to agree that last week’s riots, Biden’s victory, the pandemic and last summer’s racial justice protests all factor into the uptick in sales. 

“It’s mainly handguns and shotguns for home security,” Cragin said. “People worry what the new president-elect is going to do. But I think it’s probably because of what happened last week as well.”

Schacher pointed to last week’s elections in Georgia, which handed control of the U.S. Senate to Democrats. He argued that, with the party set to control both houses of Congress and the presidency, new gun-control laws could be in the offing. 

“And what’s the usual reaction when you tell an American they can’t do something?” he said. “They’re going to go ahead and do it.”

Taylor Buckner, owner of Hero’s Arms Fine Shotguns in Grand Isle, said he did not expect the surge in gun sales to result in violent encounters as next week’s inauguration looms. 

“I don’t think it will affect things much here, unless we’re going to have conflicts in all 50 states,” he said.

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Ellie French

About Ellie

Ellie French is a general assignment reporter and news assistant for VTDigger. She is a recent graduate of Boston University, where she interned for the Boston Business Journal and served as the editor-in-chief of The Daily Free Press, BU’s student newspaper. She is originally from Duluth, Minnesota.

Email: [email protected]

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