Middleborough Gun Store Touts Freedom, Stays Open Despite Massachusetts Governor’s Shutdown

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2020/04/29/middleborough-gun-store-touts-freedom-stays-open-despite-massachusetts-governors-shutdown/

John Costa believes in the Second Amendment and does not want the government to infringe upon it.

So he is keeping his gun store open, albeit with a few modifications. The Gunrunner, in Middleborough, is still operating, despite gun shops not being on Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s list of essential businesses that are allowed to stay open during the coronavirus emergency. 

The federal government has a different view. President Donald Trump’s administration deems gun retailers essential.

Costa, a conservative who supports Trump and not Baker, is with the federal government on this issue. Although people are not allowed inside his store, he never closed his business down — and he doesn’t plan to.

“I will not close,” he told New Boston Post in an interview outside his store on Tuesday. “They’re gonna have to drag me out of here, and how do you think that’s gonna look? Not good.”

“It’s really scary,” Costa added of taking a stand for gun rights. “I have sleepless nights. I lay in bed. I say to myself ‘What are you doing, John?’ Then I say to myself, ‘You’re doing the right thing. You’re doing the right thing for God and your country.’ It’s about defending the Second Amendment — and even the First Amendment by talking to you.”

Costa said he sees the state’s attempt to restrict gun sales as a step towards authoritarianism. 

“They’re not God-fearing,” he said of Massachusetts politicians. “It’s all about their wallet and power. What they want is a bunch of sheep. Sooner or later this is going to blow up. Maybe not in my time, but there will be death and destruction. It never changes. Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Salazar from Portugal.”

“They’re starting with volunteering, telling people to keep our distance,” he added. “You think this virus shutdown is over by May 4? Hell no. The next step isn’t voluntary, it’s: you will do this or else. There are already towns in other states where if you’re out on the streets, you’re arrested.”

(A few hours after the in-person interview with Costa on Tuesday, April 28, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker extended the state’s stay-at-home order from May 4 to May 18.)

The Salazar that Costa referred to is António de Oliveira Salazar, an autocrat who ruled Portugal from 1932 to 1974.

The 71-year-old Costa immigrated to the United States from Portugal as a young person, leaving the country during Salazar’s reign. He says he had relatives who did not leave the country who died of starvation under Salazar.

Costa is not one of the gun store owners suing in federal court to try to overturn the governor’s executive order closing gun shops. One of the plaintiffs in that case says Westport police closed off his parking lot earlier this month and didn’t allow waiting customers to make purchases, according to court documents.

Costa has managed to keep going, but the process of buying a gun from Costa’s store is different from how it was pre-coronavirus. Now, people look at what they want to buy online before coming to the store. Then, they must knock on the door to the store and wait for Costa to come out. Then, they can tell him what they would like to buy. If they want to buy a firearm, they can fill out the necessary paperwork in their car and bring it back over.

“We spray the living daylights out of it,” Costa said of the paperwork, referring to disinfectant.

The prospective gun buyer must also wait outside or in the car while the store conducts a background check on the potential buyer. Massachusetts is part of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which means background checks can be completed in about 15 minutes. Sometimes, there may be a delay, which means the prospective gun buyer has to come back in three business days, but oftentimes, the store gets the order to proceed.

Costa then retrieves the firearm from inside the store, where a bumper sticker on a gun rack says “Don’t Believe the Liberal Media.”

The response to Costa’s decision to stay open has been largely positive, he said. Among all of the email messages he has received, he said there have been three that were negative.

He also said the store is receiving telephone calls from other gun stores throughout the country — and world. 

“They want to give me their support. Some of them can barely speak English, but they know what it’s like in their country,” he said. “They’re suffering because of socialist regimes trying to take over their countries, including the United States.”


Gun racks at The Gunrunner in Middleborough, Massachusetts and a bumper sticker that says “Don’t Trust the Liberal Media” tell you where store owner John Costa stands on the Second Amendment. Signs on the exterior of the store warn customers that they can’t come inside because of the coronavirus emergency, but they can make purchases from their car outside. These photos were taken Tuesday, April 28, 2020. Photos by Tom Joyce for New Boston Post.