Back in 1911, John Jovino opened up a gun shop and manufacturing facility in Manhattan’s Little Italy neighborhood. More than a century later, the shop is closing its doors permanently. Current owner Charles Hu says the forced closure of his shop has left him unable to pay rent on the space, and he sees no path forward for the business.
He says he had hoped to keep it open at least one more year, so he could retire after turning 75.
“I completed my mission. I did a good job. No violations. I really feel so sorry I couldn’t make it because you know the first gun shop the last gun shop…110 years. To the end it’s seen 110 years. We established January 1, 1911 because that’s 110 years, I made it,” Hu said.
One Brooklyn blog is blaming the store’s closure on larger problems in the firearms industry, rather than New York’s stay-at-home order that forced gun stores across the state to indefinitely shut down their business.
Charles Hu, who took over the business in 1995 yet retained the name, held out for months. The crushing economic stress from the mandated shutdown forced him to close the business for good.
At a time when gun sales are at record levels throughout the country one would think Jovino’s would do a booming business, but work stoppages at gun manufacturing plants had halted supply and Hu had neither guns or ammunition to sell.
I’m not aware of any widespread work stoppages at gun manufacturing facilities because of the coronavirus, though some facilities may have shut down for a day or two. It’s true that most firearms distributors are slammed at the moment, and most stores aren’t able to get as many guns in stock as they’re requesting, but I haven’t heard of any gun stores that have been forced to permanently shut down because they couldn’t get the inventory they need to keep the lights on.
I suspect the real reason that John Jovino’s is shutting down is the fact that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have done everything they can to keep gun stores and ranges shut down throughout the state and city. A few weeks ago, I spoke with the owner of the Westside Range in Manhattan on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, and he’s worried that the range, which has been in operation since the 1960s, will also fall victim to the coronavirus closures. A GoFundMe set up to help with rent and other expenses while the range remains closed has netted nearly $60,000 in donations, but the long-term survival of the range is still uncertain.
Many New York businesses will be impacted by the coronavirus closures ordered by Cuomo and de Blasio, but the loss of gun stores and ranges would be a crippling blow to Second Amendment supporters and gun owners in the Big Apple. With the closing of John Jovino’s, New York City isn’t just losing a piece of history, but a redoubt for the right to keep and bear arms as well.