America Is Just Being America Again as Coronavirus Causes Surge in Gun Sales

Illustration for article titled America Is Just Being America Again as Coronavirus Causes Surge in Gun Sales
Photo: Scott Barbour (Getty Images)

Since news of the coronavirus pandemic has spread across the media faster than the virus itself, the general public has responded in a number of ways ranging from perfectly reasonable to wildly paranoid and frantic.

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Many people haven’t gone much further than taking commonsense precautions like staying indoors as much as possible and paying extra close attention to basic hygiene practices like washing their hands regularly and avoiding the spread of germs. Others are being less practical and more fearful causing them to clear grocery store racks of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, soap and other essentials. Some continue buying surgical masks hoping to shield themselves from sickness despite the Surgeon General repeatedly urging people not to do that because it doesn’t help and only depletes resources that medical professionals need. Then there are those Americans who respond the way many American’s always will to any type of crisis (or perceived crisis.): By buying more guns.

According to the Los Angeles Times, California, New York, Washington and Oklahoma are among many states that are seeing a surge in gun sales amid the coronavirus crisis. David Stone, who works at Dong’s Guns, Ammo and Reloading in Tulsa, Okla., told the Times that, over the last few days, his supplies have become severely depleted.

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“When I say sales have been booming, it’s an understatement,” said Stone. He mentioned that in recent days, truck drivers traveling along Interstate 44 in Oklahoma have been some of his biggest customers with one buying $2,500 worth of firearms and ammunition and another purchasing $200 worth of ammo alone.

“You got to be protected for all sorts of stuff,” Stone said. “Seems like the world has gone mad.”

Stone also told reporters that his go-to sales pitch up to this point was, “Welcome to the biggest selection of ammunition in all of Oklahoma.” Now he says “I’m not sure I can keep on saying that,” Meanwhile, in Culver City, California, long lines were formed all weekend in front of Martin B. Retting gun shop. One customer, 39-year-old John Gore, gave the Times a spiel straight out of the American gun-nut guide to paranoid ridiculousness saying, “Politicians and anti-gun people have been telling us for the longest time that we don’t need guns. But right now, a lot of people are truly scared, and they can make that decision themselves.”

USA Today reported that in Germantown, Wisconsin, 71-year-old Ralph Charette said he spent $1,500 in a gun shop to protect himself and his family saying, “There’s so much uncertainty and paranoia but you’ve got to protect your own.”

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From USA Today:

Many said they were looking for extra protection, primarily ammo, in case the virus shuts down most businesses.

The trend continued outside Turner’s Outdoorsman store in Torrance, California, before opening.

“People are scared,” said Drew Plotkin of Los Angeles. “There’s a lot of panic in the world and people want to be protected for the worst-case scenario.”

In New Castle, Delaware, Emily Ken, 22, bought ammunition this weekend for her 9mm handgun before “doomsday preppers” could buy up all the supply, she said.

Ken went to a Dick’s Sporting Goods store where she said one of the workers told her that everywhere else in the area was sold out.

“It’s better to be prepared than to not be prepared,” Ken said. “I already stocked up on food. Ammo was just the next step.”

As frenzied stockpiling stripped gun specialty stores of inventory, more people also went online to order gun supplies in recent weeks. Online ammunition retailer Ammo.com witnessed an exponential increase in sales since late February, which the company attributes to public worry surrounding coronavirus.

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Whether these people are afraid of being attacked by people who are as crazy as they seem, or they are under the impression that the virus is actually something they can shoot at is unclear, but this appears to have become a problem, not just for suppliers, but for those afraid of potential damage done by all the new gun enthusiasts.

“The unintended consequence of these panic-induced purchases in response to the COVID-19 pandemic could be a tragic increase of preventable gun deaths for the loved ones these individuals are trying to protect,” said Kris Brown, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, in a statement Monday.

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Y’all’s president’s son Donald Trump Jr. had a different take as he took to Twitter on Saturday to celebrate and gloat over the sudden uptick in sales because — of course, he did.

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The surge in gun purchases isn’t all white American gun buyers, though, many Asian-American citizens are stocking up to protect themselves amid reports of racist, ant-Asian backlash.

From L.A. Times

For weeks, customers have been crowding into Arcadia Firearm and Safety, a gun store in the heart of Southern California’s Chinese American community. The store’s owner, David Liu, said Sunday it was the busiest he’d ever seen, and not just because of his Asian American clientele.

“It’s everybody,” said Liu, adding that his major suppliers are out of stock, making it impossible to reorder. “It’s not only California, it’s the whole nation that’s cleaned out…. It’s like toilet paper.”

Three minutes before the store’s closing Sunday, first-time gun purchaser Anna Carreras was one of the remaining customers, waiting to see what inventory was left.

“It’s not like an active panic, more a preoccupation with making sure everyone is adequately prepared, myself and family and friends,” she said. “Better to be prepared and not need it than need it and not have it.”

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These are certainly strange times; be safe out there, folks.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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DISCUSSION

Did they not hang onto their Obama stashes? Did they just throw all that ammo out when Trump got elected?