Area gun shops are seeing big increases in sales in response to government restrictions put in place to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, shop owners said Friday.


Since Tuesday, gun sales at Jacobson’s Gun Center in Story City have increased nearly 500 percent, according to owner Paul Jacobson. He isn’t surprised, he said, as people often seek personal control once they’re reminded of the power the government holds.


In days leading up to Wednesday when the Story County Sheriff’s Office closed to help spread the slow of COVID-19, the sheriff’s office saw a 25 percent increase in the number of gun permits issued, according to chief deputy of the Story County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Nicholas Lennie.


Jacobson said both new and familiar faces have been in and out of the shop this week following Gov. Kim Reynolds’ state of emergence declaration, shutting down dine-in options for restaurants, and encouraging citizens to stay away from groups larger in 10 in efforts to avoid community spread.


As of Friday, Iowa has 45 positive, confirmed cases of COVID-19, none of which are located in Story County.


“(It) reminds people that the government, if they wish, can destroy you,” Jacobson said on the increase in sales. “People have then suddenly realized that if you are not in the ‘protected class,’ you’re on your own.”


Foot traffic increases at the Story City gun shop when Congress discusses restricting magazine capacities, Jacobson said, or banning weapons.


“There again, you remind folks that the government really does have power over you if they feel like it,” Jacobson said. “Then people realize that, again, if they’re not in the protected class, they’re on their own. So they get ready.”


Dana Schoppe, general manager of Daryl’s Gun Shop in State Center, said customers are expressing concerns about the ability to access ammunition if borders close, and the potential of increased break-ins and criminal activity in response to those who have stockpiled toilet paper and sanitary items.


“They just don’t understanding the hoarding that’s going on, and a lot of them feel like it’s going to turn to more break-ins and riots,” Schoppe said. “I do hope it does not come to that.”


Much like Jacobson, she’s seen new faces in the last two weeks as sales have increased nearly 200 percent in the shop. Regular customers have been calling ahead to check in on supply on hand and ask her to set aside a box of ammunition, which has been a popular product, she said.


More specifically, customers are looking for 9 millimeter ammo, she said, as well as rifle ammunition. Outside of COVID-19, Schoppe guesses people are stock-piling in case ammunition supplies get low leading into hunting seasons.


Political elections as well as the year leading into an election season tend to bring heavy traffic into the business, Schoppe said, where the month prior to an election it really picks up.


“The other time that time that there seems to be an increase in traffic is when – and I don’t like this – but it’s when there is a school shooting,” Schoppe said. “It seems to bring up (traffic); people want to protect their families more and want to protect as much as they can.”


In response to COVID-19, customers who come into the business are not in because of panic, she said.


“They want to make sure they have enough to protect their home,” Schoppe said.