UNIONDALE, Long Island (WABC) -- It's not just toilet paper and paper towels flying off store shelves across Long Island amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak -- it's also guns and ammunition.
"I think people are generally scared for their well-being at this point," said Andrew Chernoff, owner of Coliseum Gun Traders in Uniondale.
Chernoff said he can barely keep up with the demand for guns and ammo, and any inventory he gets in the morning typically sells out by the end of the day.
He said he's had a line outside his store on Hempstead Turnpike since last week.
"We're having problems getting enough guns in to sell," he said.
Chernoff said the primary buyers are first-time owners.
"We are now seeing a lot of first-time gun buyers who never would have thought to buy a gun before, who are now saying I need to have something to protect myself," he said.
Gun and ammunition sales have been surging across the country in recent days. Lines outside gun stores have been reported in Los Angeles, Washington, Alabama and Ohio, while stocks for publicly-traded gun sellers jumped Monday.
Background checks through the FBI system surged 36% in February compared with the same month last year to a total of 2.8 million.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said the best weapon people have against the coronavirus is staying home.
"Guns are not going to fight the virus," she said. "What will fight the virus is people staying home and isolating themselves."
Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said people have a constitutional right to purchase guns, but he wants the public to know police officers will keep them safe now, during this time of crisis, as they always do.
"People are concerned that they need to protect themselves," he said. "The Nassau County Police Department will protect you,"
Ryder said people should also take comfort in knowing that major crimes are down over the last week.
"People are home, so the burglars won't break into the house knowing the people are home," he said. "They're not breaking into the cars, because people are taking a little bit extra precaution, people are out and about in the community."
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is stressing the importance of gun storage during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are urging residents to ensure that firearms are properly secured.