MINEOLA, NY — As police, protesters and looters clash in cities across the country, a Long Island gun store's sales have soared, with customers waiting in line for hours.
Jimmy Gong, president of Jimmy's Sport Shop, which opened on Jericho Turnpike in Mineola about a year ago, told Patch on Tuesday his business, like many others, was forced to close its doors for two months due to the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing statewide shutdown. He later reopened and sold firearms to customers who ordered ahead of time. Over the weekend, he opened his shop for in-store service.
Gong's reopening coincided with national outrage over the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
Violent protests have ensued over the last nine days, including in New York City, where two police minivans lurched into groups of protesters, Molotov cocktails were hurled at police vehicles and looters have broken into numerous department stores.
Gong estimated his store has seen sales rise within the last week as much as 20 percent. Video taken at his store showed several mask-wearing customers patiently waiting in line to enter.
"They wait three, four hours to enter the store," he said. During the pandemic, the store has reduced its hours, opening three times a week for about four to six hours.
The uptick in sales stems directly from the protests, he said.
Gong, who is Chinese, said most of his customers are people from minority communities who want to support his business because it's minority-owned. They're buying guns now out of fear of criminals, not police, he said when asked why his customers have said they want a gun now.
"Criminals, looters," he said. "They're not going to buy guns for cops, they're going to buy guns for the criminals."
Most customers in recent days are shopping for rifles and shotguns, which Long Island residents can purchase in about 10 minutes, Gong said. It takes longer to buy other types of guns, though, including pistols, which require a license.
After Floyd's death, Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder after bystander video showed him holding his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, despite the man’s cries that he couldn't breathe. On Monday, a medical examiner classified Floyd’s death as a homicide and said his heart stopped while police restrained him and compressed his neck.