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Inventory of guns for sale dwindles as pandemic grows
gun run

Residents aren’t only stocking up on toilet paper and non-perishable food items.

They’re also making a run on guns.

On Thursday, Manteca’s Big 5 Sporting Goods – one of the last remaining places in Manteca that sells firearms – was down to just over 10 guns available for purchase. In the last week they have sold more than 75 percent of their supply, leaving just a few long-barrel rifles left on the rack.

Across town at Bass Pro Shops, customers were facing a four-hour wait just to speak to somebody at the gun counter, and the interest was so high that calls were held to allow for workers to focus on the number of customers that were in the store. Sales of ammunition were just as hot, and one man who planned to spend his afternoon stocking up for what he could get; didn’t mind the wait.

“I’d rather wait now and have it and not need it,” said the man, who asked that his name be withheld. “Nobody knows what’s going to happen in the next few weeks, and I want to be able to protect my family and myself.”

Whether stores that sell firearms will remain open in the coming weeks if restrictions are carried out in San Joaquin County the same way they have been in almost all of the Bay Area remains to be seen.

San Jose Police closed a gun store on Wednesday after it stayed open in defiance of lockdown orders that the county had issued to try and stop the spread of the virus – which initially began to surface in Santa Clara. The police did not write the owner a ticket, and the owner informed them that he had remained open to provide guns to customers that had already bought them and gone through the mandatory California waiting period.

An effort is underway to gather online signatures to prevent gun stores from closing as a result of shelter in place and quarantine efforts.

Manteca’s only two dedicated gun stores – Elite Arms and Shotgun Johnny’s – have closed in recent years leaving only Bass Pro Shops, Big 5, and Ripon’s Barnwood Arms as businesses that serve residents of the South County.

Barnwood, which has been advertising bulk ammunition on its Facebook page of the last week, issued a notice on Wednesday that customers are being limited to only one customer pair in the store per employee that is working to comply with social distancing recommendations.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.