Because of the coronavirus pandemic we have seen panic start to seep into society in the form of fights over toilet paper, lines to Costco that extend for blocks, and price-gouging of hand sanitizer. There has also been panic-enduced surge in sales of guns, ammo and body armor.
Widener’s Reloading and Shooting Supply, an online ammunition retailer, sold twice as much ammo between February 23-25 this year than last year.
“It’s clear our customers want to be prepared in a worst-case scenario,” Jacob Long, of Widener’s, told the American Rifleman. “For a lot of our families, a disaster plan includes having ammo on hand.”
Reports from several gun shops around the United States are saying that they have experienced a spike in sales of firearms. The online ammo retailer Ammo.com reported a 410% increase in .40 caliber handgun ammo sales since February 23, 2020, a 194% increase in .223 (AR-15 ammo) sales, 101% increase in 9mm sales, and a 95% increase in the sale of 12 gauge shells.
They also reported a 68% increase in sales from February 23 to March compared to the previous 11 days. The states with the biggest increases were North Carolina and Georgia.
In North Carolina, the Money Quick Pawn in Fayetteville has seen an ammo sales increase.
“We have seen a distinct increase in both handgun and rifle ammunition in the past few months,” said Danny Garcia, manager of Money Quick Pawn and Guns. “February was a record sales month. Talking with our customers, we are hearing the increase is due to both the prospect of a coronavirus outbreak and the pending elections.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is thought to be the reason for an upswing of firearm sales in California, where sales of guns and ammunition are five times above normal.
“I’ve sold 12 handguns in two hours,” Gabriel Vaughn, owner of the Sportman’s Arms in Petaluma, told KTVU. “Any time people are uneasy, sales go up, and it’s always the same, guns and ammo.”
“People who tell me that they don’t like guns, but they’re here to begrudgingly buy one,” said Vaughn. “And if it makes somebody feel safe and they’re legal to own one, then sure.”
Duane Pohlman, the owner of LEPD Firearms in Columbus, Ohio, said people are getting concerned about the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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.”
A gun shop in Culver City, California, had a line around the building.
Inside the gun store, people were eager to buy a new weapon.
Asian Americans are also buying more guns, but for an unfortunate reason. Asian Americans have been purchasing firearms because they have encountered more hostility from fellow Americans who are targeting them because of their race. The coronavirus originated from Wuhan, China, and some Americans believe that Asians are at fault for the spread in the United States.
Dennis Lin, the owner of Gun Effects and Cloud 9 Fishing, told KABC that there has been a significant increase in Asian Americans buying firearms.
“Just people discriminating,” Lin told KABC. “We forget, we’re all people. We’re in America, we’re not in China.”
Wade’s Eastside Guns in Bellevue, Washington, has seen a considerable uptick in Asian customers. Overall sales at the store have increased sixfold since the coronavirus outbreak.
“I had a Chinese customer come in who was afraid because a message had been left on his door from someone in the neighborhood, and this is a man born in America, and it’s pure ignorance, and very sad,” said Vaughn.
Besides guns and ammo, people are also buying more prepper food and body armor. A California military supply store couldn’t meals ready to eat (MRE), medical kits, and food-grade storage bins in stock.
“We’re bringing pallets (of MREs) up all the time now, and even our supplier in Southern California is having trouble keeping them in stock,” said Raymond Prather, owner of Victory Stores in Vallejo, California. “Any survival equipment because people want security, to feel like they’re prepared, and they don’t want to have to leave the house to get groceries.”
Regular civilians are also purchasing more ballistic body armor. “I do of course get a certain amount of my business from the prepper community, but the majority of the uptick isn’t coming from the prepper community, it’s the general civilian population,” Matt Materazo, the founder of the tactical outfitting store Gladiator Solutions, told BuzzFeed.
“They’re afraid the coronavirus will put the country into lockdown, and they’ll defend themselves and their supplies,” Nick Groat, the president of Safe Life Defense, told BuzzFeed that he has seen a 10% increase in civilian sales over the last few weeks. “Having that protection is always an excellent option.”