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Many gun stores in Springfield are open, though the way they’re doing business has changed a lot since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

At Eagle Armory, which just moved into its new store on East Chestnut Expressway, owner Zac Teerhark said business has been booming in recent weeks.

“Business has been crazy, with a lot of first-time gun buyers,” Teerhark said. “We’re seeing a lot of people who’ve never bought a gun before, but just decided now is a good time to buy one.”

Teerhark said he is limiting the number of customers who can be in the store to 10 at a time, with a sign outside letting people know that. 

“Inside, we’re keeping people spaced out. And we’re keeping our hands sanitized to protect our employees,” he said.

Teerhark said he has no issue with Springfield and Greene County’s new stay-at-home order, which went into effect on Thursday. He said he considers his company to be an essential business during the emergency.

State law has his back. In 2007, state lawmakers approved a law for declared emergencies, just like the one Springfield is experiencing today.

The law, RSMo. Section 44.101, says: “The state, any political subdivision, or any person shall not prohibit or restrict the lawful possession, transfer, sale, transportation, storage, display, or use of firearms or ammunition during an emergency.”

On Wednesday, city and county officials referenced the law, confirming that it prevents cities and counties from shutting down gun stores during an emergency.

Manager Seth Gaines at Cherokee Firearms said store officials looked at the city and county’s stay-at-home order and initially concluded the firearms store was not an “essential business.”

However, Cherokee Firearms remains open, but with significant changes in how it handles customers.

Gaines said customers walking up to the store will see spacer markings on the sidewalk that will keep people 6 feet apart.

“And we’re allowing only one customer in the shop at a time,” Gaines said. “There’s a table set up where they can do background checks, but there won’t be anyone roaming around the store looking at stuff. They have to stay in that one spot.”

Cherokee Firearms continues to do online sales of gear and equipment, with customer pickups at curbside in the parking lot.

“We’re doing the best we can to accommodate our customers and keep our staff safe as well,” Gaines said.

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