BY MORGAN LEGEL
Journal Staff

Rush Gear and Armory, one of Guam’s few ammunitions shops, saw heavy sales, but has closed to help stop the spread of COVID-19 on the island.

Photo by Morgan Legel

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Guam residents, along with much of the world’s population, have begun to stockpile “essential” items, like toilet paper, cleaning products and … ammunition.

Jade Templo, owner of Rush Gear 671 paintball and Rush Armory, one of Guam’s few “ammo” shops, said, “Self-protection business in general always spikes during a crisis, and with COVID-19 causing a panic, people feel the need for self-protection.”

He said one reason could be because in situations like this first responders get overwhelmed and may not be able to get to someone fast enough.

Another reason, he said, is that, “People are worried about looters, riots and other lawlessness during a crisis. Lawless people take advantage of terrible situations like this and law-abiding citizens want to be able to protect themselves, just in case lawless people comes to their homes and try to cause harm to their families.”

Guam’s Public Law 32-111, signed into law in 2014, created a castle doctrine law, or a “stand-your-ground” law, which allows for immunity from criminal prosecution or civil action to a person who uses force intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury on someone who unlawfully or forcibly enters a residence, vehicle or business.

More than 40 states, along with Puerto Rico, have some form of a castle doctrine law.

For Guam, the process of registering a firearm includes receiving a firearms identification number, having a safety inspection done through the Guam Police Department Armory and filing a registration form.

Before purchase and registration, a person must undergo a background check.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, in February 2019 there were 2,053,886 background checks done for firearms, and in 2020 there were 2,802,467 checks. While this does not determine the number of firearms bought, the number reflects a 36.45% increase in background checks done between the two years.

The numbers for 2019 have not been released yet, but according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in 2018, 14,054 licenses were processed, 17 of which got denied, 1,913 requests were withdrawn and 377 were abandoned.

In February, online-retailer ammo.com reported more than a 300% increase on revenue this year over last year, which is an “unprecedented” amount of sales. The increase occurred from Feb. 23 to March 15, and was compared against Feb. 1 to Feb. 22, both 22-day spans.

Templo said he believes there is a shortage of ammunition on the island, and everywhere. According to Templo, business has been excellent at his store, and gun and ammo purchases have gone up since COVID-19 started its wide-spread pandemic.

“Even though business may be good, we decided to follow the quarantine to avoid any more spread of this dangerous virus. We did advise our customers to contact us if they need urgent assistance in the products we carry,” he said.

The FBI told the Journal it won’t speculate on any ammunition or firearms shortages or sales. mbj