At least one Charleston area gun shop is reporting more people are seeking guns and ammunition, on the heels of a tumultuous weekend where property was damaged amid protests over the killing of black people.
“It’s my constitutional right,” a gun owner said Monday when asked why he was among the 20 people outside Palmetto State Armory in Summerville. He declined to elaborate and give his name. The gun shop is limiting the number of people inside to help maintain social distancing and the spread of COVID-19.
In nearby Ladson, ATP Gunshop and Range owner Arlyn Pendergast had about 30 people waiting outside the store with 12 inside to maintain social distancing.
“We’re swamped right now,” Pendergast said. “It’s a lot more than usual.”
He said a few customers have expressed feelings of concern and some are new gun owners.
Gun shops were already experiencing an increase in sales amid the pandemic. But Pendergast said the last few days have exceeded that increase.
Bryan Ibsen of North Charleston said he wanted to get some ammunition with the “stuff that’s going on right now.” But he said he didn’t feel uncertain about the protests, including the one happening at that moment a few blocks away that prompted businesses along Main Street in Summerville to reinforce windows with plywood and a police helicopter overhead.
Protests in the Charleston area have been mostly peaceful, but turned destructive downtown on Saturday night, leaving dozens of businesses damaged. Charleston police say they arrested 10 people Saturday, rounding up dozens more from peaceful protests on Sunday.
“I haven’t shot in a while and I think I need to get my eye on the scope,” Ibsen said.
Most of those in line in Summerville declined to be interviewed. But for Justin Dopson of Goose Creek, Monday’s trip to Palmetto State Armory only had slightly more people than on his Saturday trip. He said he was there to pick up ammunition for target practice.