24 Mar 2020

Gun store owner urges calm after firearms owners queue outside shops

7:51 pm on 24 March 2020

People have been queuing outside Auckland gun stores today ahead of tomorrow's level four Covid-19 lockdown.

Queues at Gun City as New Zealand prepares for Covid-19 lockdown.

Queues at Gun City as New Zealand prepares for Covid-19 lockdown. Photo: RNZ / Nick Monro

Customers were only being allowed into the Penrose Gun City store in small groups to allow for social distancing, but there was a steady line out front.

Shoppers spoken to by RNZ said the shelves which usually had air rifles on them had been stripped bare.

One man was seen leaving the store with four air rifles, which you don't need a gun license for.

Gun City owner David Tipple said he had seen an increase in business of around 20 percent in recent weeks.

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"It started sometime ago, it wasn't just in the last day or two. I think the minute the lockdown was a real possibility, then people started to prepare for a lockdown," Tipple said.

"Business has been busier than normal with an increase in both stores and online but nothing that would equate to the four weeks lockdown just people stocking up to last them the period the shops aren't open...

"I think that everyone reacts differently and some more worried than others but that doesn't equate to anything other than how much back up they need.

An irrational person is buying enough (ammunition) to last them 12 months - a rational person is buying enough to last them four weeks.

"Yes we are (an essential service). We supply primary industries and of course animals need to be put down from time to time and pests need to be controlled."

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He said Gun City would operate via its online store throughout the lockdown.

Tipple said panic buying elsewhere had surprised him and cautioned firearms owners to be calm.

"We've got plenty of stocks there's going to be no shortage of ammunition, we have containers arriving all the time ... I'm telling you, you don't need to panic, we've got plenty to last for the next 12 months."