Hudson gun dealer sees uptick in sales
HUDSON – When it comes to purchasing a gun amidst the coronavirus outbreak, toilet paper by comparison, seems overrated.
Last month alone, there were an astonishing 3,740,688 background checks, according to the FBI.
Purchasing firearms shouldn’t come as a shock, now that COVID-19 is causing unpredictable health and financial disruption. People are in lockdown, worried that someone desperate might break into their home. And it doesn’t help matters when Donald Trump calls COVID-19 “the Chinese virus” as if people being attacked by an army of foreigners.
For Mike Goyette at Pete’s Gun and Tackle, 2 Dracut Road, Hudson, there has been an onslaught of current gun owners and a slew of new ones, lining up outside to get into the shop to procure a firearm. Goyette said he’s seen this kind of response before – sort of.
“Yes and no,” he said. “Up here, not as much. But when Katrina happened in New Orleans, a lot of people were scared as to what was going to happen was not going to be a stay-at-home order but almost like martial law, where people would be in lockdown, and you weren’t going to be able to go to the grocery store or a pharmacy to pick up the necessities. People wanted to protect what they had.”
Goyette said it wasn’t the pro-gun advocates that were rushing the door. It was the other faction of new gun owners that were looking to buy.
“I would say besides my regular customers, the new firearm purchases were 70% of the sales,” he said. “We’re right here on the Massachusetts border, and we had a lot of people coming up from Mass., with their driver’s licenses, thinking they could purchase firearms. They were shocked to learn that depending on their town in Massachusetts, it could be a minimum of four, five, six months to even get just the permit to purchase. People couldn’t believe it.”
Goyette said a Massachusetts selectman came to Pete’s to purchase a firearm and expected that he would be able to do so and walk out of the store the same day with a gun.
“He was from a small town and he was all upset,” Goyette said. “He didn’t have his permits. I told him, ‘this is the law in your state. You guys are the ones that voted in these people.'”
As for being a Massachusetts citizen and wanting to buy there, without a permit, you can’t buy a handgun and it takes months to process – and it varies from town to town.
New Hampshire law requires a driver’s license, a clean record and every time a person wishes to purchase a firearm, another background check must be conducted.
“If you buy a gun today, and come back two weeks from now, I have to run another background check,” Goyette said. “During normal times, a background check takes a couple of hours. But with the COVID-19 crisis, it takes four to five days.”
Although things have settled down, background checks could still take 24-hours for New Hampshire residents. Goyette said the system isn’t as inundated as it was a few weeks ago, but it is still busy. He and his staff field many queries about new gun ownership on a daily basis.
As for his inventory, Goyette said he’s been “wiped out.”
“Anything of a defensive type of firearm from shotguns to handguns has been sold,” he said. “For new gun purchases, you really want to go over things more with people. I’m actually working Rob Tibbo at CDI, (Critical Defense Institute). For anybody who is a new gun buyer, if you show your gun purchase receipt from my store, he’s offering a free four-hour pistol course. It helps me out and helps out that new gun purchaser who may be on the timid side.”
Social distancing guidelines prohibit CDI from having classes with greater than nine people, and Goyette limits the number of people in his store at one time to 10 people.
“Before, when Sununu allowed gatherings of 25-50, and this is a small store,” he explained. “You’d have people packed in here like sardines. At first, when it was really crazy, I was doing by appointment only. And then the with the governor’s policy changed, that helped me out tremendously, because we are always wiping things down, like our pens, doors, countertops and the guns.”
Wiping down guns to sanitize them takes off oils, which means the guns then need to be re-wiped with oil after people have handled them.
Goyette said new inventory is trickling in and but it’s a difficult time to be restocking his store.
“When all of this was taking place, I was on vacation,” he said. “My son said, ‘Dad, we have to do something.’ So, the first thing I did was take a lot of ammunition off the shelves and started limiting. When people buy a gun, they want to buy cases of ammo.”
It’s similar to the toilet paper hoard, Goyette said. People were buying cases of ammo from him for $250 and reselling them for $500 -$1,000.
“Now you’re only allowed to buy two – four boxes, depending on the caliber of the gun,” he said. “It got so bad at one point, I almost ran out of ammo to sell. The only way for a buyer to get ammo was to purchase a new firearm.”
Goyette would sell gun owners a box or two but had to ration. Once the shelves were emptied, he limited those ammo purchases to new gun buyers because if he was selling someone a new gun, they would naturally require ammunition for it.
“I did have one customer who left me a negative review online,” he said. “He was mad because I wouldn’t and couldn’t sell ammo. It turned out he was from upstate Vermont or New York so it was moot – I couldn’t have sold him ammo anyway because he can’t come to my state and by ammo.”
With computerization, and ATF laws, Goyette is able to access them quickly when conducting a customer transaction. Some states dictate that an out-of-stater can legally buy a rifle from Pete’s but not a handgun.
“In this case, I would have to ship the handgun to a dealer in their state,” he said. “A shotgun or rifle can be sold via the background check. But what happens is that some states have ten day waiting periods, so I won’t even bother – it’s too much paperwork. And in that ten days’ time, if that person gets denied, I could have sold that gun to another customer instead.”
During normal buying periods, Goyette is willing to work with a customer provided that they have all their permits and it’s a legal sale or transaction.
Another oddity, said Goyette, is that Massachusetts has strange laws when it comes right down to things as innocuous as gun color.
“They might be able to buy a purple gun, but they can’t buy a red gun or a green gun,” he said. “It could be the exact same firearm in three different colors. And they can buy one but not the other two. It’s not caliber. It’s by UPC. If the color changes, the UPC code is different.”
In Massachusetts, guns must go through their personal safety tests. Companies must send five firearms to be tested and destroyed, of every UPC out there.
“Gun companies are not going to have every single gun of theirs’ tested,” said Goyette. “What they’ll do is have the black gun tested, but not the pink, the red and the purple. It’s that strict down in Mass. It’s crazy. It can be the exact same gun, exact same caliber, and everything is 100% the same, but the color is different and the UPC number is different, you can’t buy that gun in that state.”
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