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'Taking Things Into Their Own Hands': Gun Sales Increase After Calls To Defund Police Departments, Nationwide Protests And Coronavirus Pandemic

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- First, it was the pandemic. Then the protests, and now talk of abolishing or defunding police departments.

That is leading to a run on firearms at local gun shops.

Not everybody owns a gun, and many don't want to. But those who sell guns say that many people locally are buying firearms for the first time.

And the supplies are short, and even out, for many popular items like shotguns.

Those who sell firearms say they're getting hammered with new customers.

"We've seen a significant increase in firearm purchases over the last couple weeks and more so this past week," Ben Romanoff told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.

Romanoff owns Ace Sporting Goods, one of this region's largest seller of firearms.

WATCH: Full Interviews With KDKA's Jon Delano

He says it's a combination of the pandemic, protests on the street, and "a lot of talk, unfortunately, about defunding police departments."

"I think it really has people concerned the honest law-abiding citizen, whoever you are, unfortunately, may have to take things into their own hands," says Romanoff.

Romanoff says most are first-time customers.

"They've thought maybe it's time I do come in. They are kind of being reactive to the situation," Delano said.

Second Amendment advocates are not surprised by the surge in new buyers.

"If it's well-known that police can't respond, then people have to find some way to create a situation where they can defend themselves," says Kim Stolfer, founder and president of Firearms Owners Against Crime.

But not everyone agrees.

"Guns won't make you safe," says Adam Garber, executive director of Ceasefire PA, a gun control advocacy group. "The statistics show again and again that having a gun in your home often makes it more likely that someone will get injured or killed."

If you do decide to buy a gun, everyone agrees — get training in how to use it.

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