MINEOLA, N.Y. - Phones have been ringing off the hook and the line has been wrapped around the building at Coliseum Gun Traders in Uniondale, Nassau County, ever since the coronavirus pandemic began. And now with protests and rioting after the killing of George Floyd, the store has seen another enormous spike in sales. Keeping the shelves stocked has been hard, store owner Andy Chernoff said.
"We started out this week with a fair amount of merchandise. We're running out. Literally running out," Chernoff said. "Never thought I'd say that."
And it's the same story at Jimmy's Sport Shop in Mineola. Jay Zeng said the store opens at noon and they work until midnight.
"Now I see a lot of minorities buying guns to try to protect their homes," co-owner Jimmy Gong said.
The surge is not limited to Long Island. Nationwide, an estimated 1.7 million guns were sold in May, an 80% jump compared to the same time last year, according to Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting, a private research firm.
Retailers say that customers, many of them first-time gun owners, are looking for shotguns that start at around $300.
"They're in fear for their life and their family's well good," Chernoff said.
The Nassau County Police Department acknowledged the right to bear arms but said that officers, even during this tumultuous time, are out in full force.
"Even with everything that's going on, we've lowered crime another 5% in this county," Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said.
People we spoke with say you can never be too safe.
"Times are scary," one person said. "You have to be prepared in case."