Stores across the United States hardly can keep hand sanitizer and toilet paper on their shelves, and sales of guns, ammunition and tactical wear also have surged during the coronavirus pandemic, according to media reports.
The growing number of cases in the country has led people to buy guns for the first time, a California gun shop owner told KTVU-TV.
“People who tell me that they don’t like guns, but they’re here to begrudgingly buy one,” Gabriel Vaughn, owner of Sportsman’s Arms In Petaluma, told the TV station. “And if it makes somebody feel safe and they’re legal to own one, then sure.”
Sales on Ammo.com, an online ammunition store, were 68 percent greater from Feb. 23 to March 4 than they were the preceding 11 days, the company said in a press release. Residents in North Carolina and Georgia had the biggest increase in sales on the website.
Kevin Lim, who owns tactical gear retailer Bulletproof Zone, told BuzzFeed News his sales have jumped 50 to 100 percent.
“I think with the way things have escalated quite quickly around the world and in the U.S. in just the last couple of weeks, it’s very hard to tell what’s going to happen next, and I believe it is better to be safe than sorry,” Lim said. “That’s what our business is about, after all, keeping people safe.”
The owner of LEPD Firearms in Columbus, Ohio, told WKRC that his customers are not panicked, but are preparing for COVID-19 to worsen.
“It’s an unknown, so there are people that are concerned,” Duane Pohlman told WKRC. “In those times of uncertainty, people have a reaction to make sure they want to protect themselves and their families, and I think that’s what we’re seeing especially here in our store.”
Most of the guns Larry Hyatt, the owner of Charlotte’s Hyatt Guns, is selling are of the self-defense variety — including AR-15s, he told BuzzFeed.
There has been a large uptick in gun sales among Asian Americans, Dennis Lin, owner of Gun Effects and Cloud 9 Fishing, told KABC. He said some Asian Americans are being targeted because of their race.
“Just people discriminating,” Lin told KABC. “We forget, we’re all people. We’re in America, we’re not in China.”
Coronavirus was first detected in China in December and there are now more than 80,000 cases in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University. Cases have grown substantially in the United States in recent weeks.
Most of the gun sales of Wade’s Eastside Guns in Bellevue, Washington, were by people of Asian descent, the store’s internet sales manager told The Trace. Sales at the store have increased sixfold since the pandemic began, Cole Gaughhran said.
“The main thing I’m hearing is that they don’t want to get jumped because of their race,” Gaughran told The Trace.
David Liu, owner or Arcardia Firearm & Safety in California, told KCAL-TV he has also equipped his store with hand sanitizer and has asked sick people to stay away.
“If you’re prepared, you’re not afraid,” he told the TV station.