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Gun dealers say sales are up as LA and other cities classify stores as ‘essential’

Second Amendment


Gun sellers in the US say sales are exploding as Americans rush to protect themselves from a possible coronavirus panic. 

Buyers are purchasing guns and ammunition in the event they have to defend themselves from people who become desperate and unpredictable over the deadly virus, say retailers. 

‘We have had about an 800 percent increase in sales,’ said David Stone, owner of Dong’s Guns, Ammo and Reloading in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who described the buying frenzy. 

‘A lot of people are buying shotguns, handguns, AR-15 (semi-automatic rifles), everything,’ says Tiffany Teasdale, owner of Lynnwood Gun, describing the kinds of weapons she’s sold since the uptick.  

Gun sellers in the US say sales are exploding as Americans rush to protect themselves from a possible coronavirus panic. An employee answers questions at the entrance to a California gun shop this week.

Buyers are purchasing guns and ammunition in the event they have to defend themselves from people who become desperate and unpredictable over the deadly virus, say retailers. Customers are pictured outside the Martin B. Retting guns store in Culver City, California

Buyers are purchasing guns and ammunition in the event they have to defend themselves from people who become desperate and unpredictable over the deadly virus, say retailers. Customers are pictured outside the Martin B. Retting guns store in Culver City, California

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Buyers are snatching up shotguns, handguns, AR-15 (semi-automatic rifles), everything,' says one gun shop owner, describing the kinds of weapons she's sold since the uptick. A worker restocks AR-15 guns at Davidson Defense in Orem, Utah

Buyers are snatching up shotguns, handguns, AR-15 (semi-automatic rifles), everything,’ says one gun shop owner, describing the kinds of weapons she’s sold since the uptick. A worker restocks AR-15 guns at Davidson Defense in Orem, Utah

A worker inspects an AR-15 rifle at Davidson Defense in Orem, Utah

A worker inspects an AR-15 rifle at Davidson Defense in Orem, Utah

Workers assemble AR-15 rifles at Delta Team Tactical in Orem, Utah

Workers assemble AR-15 rifles at Delta Team Tactical in Orem, Utah

A worker inspects a finished AR-15 rifle barrel at Delta Team Tactical in Orem, Utah, this week

A worker inspects a finished AR-15 rifle barrel at Delta Team Tactical in Orem, Utah, this week

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has allowed the stores to stay open, after the county’s attorney classified them as ‘essential.’ 

San Diego’s Sheriff Bill Gore also allowed the shops to remain open, saying they provide a ‘valuable public service’.

Sales have spiked in a matter of days, industry experts say. 

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva also has allowed the stores to stay open, after the county's attorney classified them as 'essential'

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva also has allowed the stores to stay open, after the county’s attorney classified them as ‘essential’

San Diego's Sheriff Bill Gore also allowed the shops to remain open, saying they provide a 'valuable public service'

San Diego’s Sheriff Bill Gore also allowed the shops to remain open, saying they provide a ‘valuable public service’

FBI data shows the spike in requested background checks, year over year, in January and February

FBI data shows the spike in requested background checks, year over year, in January and February

Purchases are being made by first-time buyers and existing gun owners adding to their collection or stocking up on ammunition after seeing grocery stores depleted, schools closed and big events canceled, including the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting.  

Also potentially driving the sales are concerns that elected officials may try to restrict access to firearms.

Specific data on the size of the sales spike will not be available until next month. But already this year, background checks are up considerably over last year. According to data from the FBI, just over 5.5 million background checks were conducted in January and February combined.

Gun sales generally rise in an election year, as they did in 2016. But this past January and February have outpaced 2016 by nearly 350,000.

There have been in the US close to 55,000 confirmed cases of the deadly, virus, also known as COVID-19. The infection has been blamed for at least 783 known deaths across the country. 

There have been in the US close to 60,000 confirmed cases of the deadly, flu-like virus, also known as COVID-19. The infection has been blamed for at least 823 known deaths across the country

There have been in the US close to 60,000 confirmed cases of the deadly, flu-like virus, also known as COVID-19. The infection has been blamed for at least 823 known deaths across the country

Federal health officials have warned that the worst of the pandemic has yet to hit the US. Meanwhile, lawmakers have agreed on an unprecedented $2 trillion aid package to bail out large corporations, provide relief to small businesses, and send $1,200 checks to Americans. 

Federal officials hope the additional cash will help Americans who are out of work get through the crisis.  

Purchases are being made by first-time buyers and existing gun owners adding to their collection or stocking up on ammunition after seeing grocery stores depleted, schools closed and big events canceled. A gun buyer is pictured outside a store in Burbank, California

Purchases are being made by first-time buyers and existing gun owners adding to their collection or stocking up on ammunition after seeing grocery stores depleted, schools closed and big events canceled. A gun buyer is pictured outside a store in Burbank, California

One of the handguns on display at a gun shop in Manassas, Virginia. Even the cancellation of the including the National Rifle Association's annual meeting has driven up concerns for gun owners who are rushing to buy weapons for protection

One of the handguns on display at a gun shop in Manassas, Virginia. Even the cancellation of the including the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting has driven up concerns for gun owners who are rushing to buy weapons for protection

Gun sellers report that along with a massive uptick in sales, customers are lining up outside their stores.

The overall majority of the clients are rushing to stock up on firearms and ammunition. 

First-time buyers are grabbing anything available.

‘It’s fear over coronavirus,’ Stone of Dong’s Guns, Ammo and Reloading says. ‘I don’t understand it myself and I think it’s unreasonable.’

Several other store owners across the US say they have also seen a surge in sales as people fear social order will unravel if the health and economic crisis caused by the virus escalates.

Teasdale of Lynnwood Gun in Washington, one of the states hardest hit by the virus, says she has seen a massive uptick in sales with customers lining up an hour before the store opens. 

‘We used to have on what we would call busy days, 20 to 25 firearms being sold,’ said Teasdale, who has hired a bouncer to keep everyone in check. 

‘Today, we are seeing upwards of 150.’

She said shotguns were in shortage across the country, along with ammunition for them as well as ammunition for handguns. 

Like Stone, she said most of her customers are first-time buyers who undergo background checks and, if need be, are given a quick course on how to handle their purchase. 

 ‘We have men, women, young, middle-aged, older, everybody buying guns,’ she said. ‘And all ethnic backgrounds — black, Asian, Indian, Hispanic.’

She said one customer who came into the store recently decided it was time to arm himself after he witnessed two women fighting over the last case of bottled water at a store.

‘We have customers who are also scared because law enforcement is being told to not respond as much because they are so short-staffed,’ she added.

‘So a lot of people are scared that someone is going to break into their home… to steal cash, their toilet paper, their bottled water, their food.’

Utah resident Nick Silverri told the local CBS station that he recently purchased a shotgun for protection, but was having a hard time finding ammo.

‘A shotgun seemed like a prudent firearm for self-defense in case COVID-19 virus got people all riled up and crazy,’ he said.

Jordan McCormick, marketing director of Delta Team Tactical, based in Utah, said his company, which mostly makes AR-15 kits, is working non-stop to meet demand.

‘Last week is pretty much when things got crazy,’ McCormick, whose products are sold online and in stores, told AFP. ‘It’s like gasoline got poured on a fire.’ 

He said fears over gun shops being shut down across the country as more and more states impose lockdowns have driven sales, along with concerns by advocates who worry that the right to bear arms – as laid out in the second amendment of the US constitution – could be threatened.

‘A lot of people want to protect themselves,’ he said. ‘If people are out of work for a while and they start looting, they want to have the ability to protect themselves, their assets and their family.’



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