Gun and ammunition dealers have seen a spike in first-time customers who fear that the pandemic could lead to a breakdown of public order.
As soon as people grasped the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak, all kinds of stores across the world saw an influx of customers stocking up on essential items as though preparing for the apocalypse. While first laughed and then disapprovingly shook our heads at viral videos of women fighting over toilet paper, outraged against those who sought to turn the panic-buying spree into a business opportunity, and forwarded heartwarming stories of good samaritans going on shopping sprees for the elderly, apparently some people have actually been gearing up for a trip into Zombieland.
A disturbing number of Americans have been lining up outside gun shops. According to the New York Times, gun and ammunition dealers have seen a spike in first-time customers who fear that the pandemic could lead to a breakdown of public order. Larry Hyatt, the owner of a North Carolina gun store, revealed that sales have increased 30 to 40 percent since late February. "People have a little lack of confidence that if something big and bad happens, that 911 might not work. We saw it with Katrina," he said, referring to the 2005 hurricane. "People haven’t forgotten that a disaster happened, and the government didn’t come."
Owner of a gun store in Georgia reached out after pub and said he hasn't seen sales like this since right after the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting.— Hayley Miller (@hayleymiller01) March 18, 2020
"All of our distributors are several days if not a week behind," he said. "It's like Black Friday every day."https://t.co/DzfnJMi9fk
To be fair, the Trump administration's handling of the COVID-19 outbreak hasn't exactly been a confidence booster. On the other hand, part of the reason for the sudden hike in firearm sales appears to be the upcoming presidential election. Chuck Lowder—who recently stocked up on ammunition—cited a testy confrontation between a construction worker in Detroit and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., sparked by the worker accusing the presidential hopeful of "actively trying to end our Second Amendment right." Explaining why it led him to a gun store, Lowder said: "When you’re told you can’t have something, the first thing you want to do is get it."
However, Lowder does believe that the fear of what could happen with the pandemic is more likely what's driving people to gun shops. The sudden flurry of tweets showing lines outside ammunition stores and empty shelves definitely seem to indicate so. Here are 21 such tweets we've found so far:
Queues to buy guns in LA 😳— Amelia Adams (@AmeliaAdams9) March 15, 2020
Buyers tell me they’re scared of what will happen if people run out of food and supplies, and they need to protect their families. We’re live on @TheTodayShow as #coronavirus panic hits LA. pic.twitter.com/2KqGPZfNo4
It was so many folks in there buying guns. All the hand gun ammo selling out. pic.twitter.com/r0Eel1u6rl— The Antihero (@zone6nova) March 13, 2020
Even the gun stores have long ass lines! It’s the corona virus not zombie apocalypse🤦🏽♂️ pic.twitter.com/qtThOMx9I1— Drobi (@drobifit) March 17, 2020
I want to add there are lines out the door for gun shops?! Excuse me??? pic.twitter.com/MRago1EVHQ— Jessica Michel (@micheljessica_) March 14, 2020
Line at Philadelphia Gun and Archery Club wrapped around the block despite supposed closure of non-essential businesses. Asked one woman in line what she was getting, and she said: “What everyone else is buying: A gun.” pic.twitter.com/EKrQY8Wksl— Lauren Evans (@LaurenFaceEvans) March 18, 2020
There is literally a line to get INTO the gun store right now pic.twitter.com/fu4bAmAzx1— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) March 18, 2020
Big line for handguns and most the ammo sold out at sportsman warehouse pic.twitter.com/OgfA5EONpa— Brian Shannon, CMT (@alphatrends) March 14, 2020
Line out the door to buy guns just East of LA proper.... don’t really like seeing that. pic.twitter.com/xWImbkpjuf— John-Henry Scherck (@JHTScherck) March 14, 2020
If you thought the lines at the grocery store are long... good morning from Los Angeles 🌴 pic.twitter.com/NudGqwW4I2— CJ Johnson (@cjjohnsonjr) March 14, 2020
Significant lines at the gun store on the turnpike by Hofstra University pic.twitter.com/9W9Oamk1jL— Robert Kinnaird (@rmkinnaird98) March 16, 2020
This was in a sporting goods store yesterday at the gun counter that never has lines. pic.twitter.com/AHjSzAwUJv— Matt Lacuesta (@MattLacuesta) March 14, 2020
This was literally the line for guns and ammo today @BassProShops in Las Vegas On Dean Martin Dr. one of the employee said that this line was mild compared to the previous day. You can’t see the whole line.🤦🏽♀️ #coronapocolypse #coronavirus #Trumpdemic #ammo #lasvegas pic.twitter.com/pR84s1CalD— Pash Lee Lowery (@pashalowery) March 16, 2020
People are in line around the corner for the GUN STORE!! Are they planning on shooting people that take their toilet paper ?! pic.twitter.com/s1XSuP4j3A— ريم (@Reemster96) March 14, 2020
The longest line I’ve seen for anything lately is for guns at sportsman’s warehouse. pic.twitter.com/Zz8fpvTKd9— Michele C (@mcheno) March 17, 2020
This was the scene at City Arms in Pacifica. Similar situation at Peninsula Guns and Tactical. Lots of empty shelves. Good luck finding bulk ammo. pic.twitter.com/FGDI9UE1UJ— Mark Fabela (@markdfabela) March 13, 2020