After hundreds of coronavirus cases were reported in the United States, gun sales are surging in many of the states, especially in those hit hardest by the virus — California, New York and Washington.
Los Angeles Times reported that throughout the weekend, customers formed a long queue outside the Martin B. Retting gun shop in Culver City. “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,” one of the customers told LA Times.
A 74-year-old military veteran, who recently spent $1,500 to buy a gun and ammunition told USA Today that he and his family will now be safe from looters. A 22-year-old, who bought ammunition for her handgun, told the newspaper, “I already stocked up on food. Ammo was the next step.”
And it seems, guns are running out too. Gun shop owners are calling it ‘panic’. Meanwhile, online sales have been climbing up. According to one such company that sells ammunition online, from Feb. 23 to March 4, transactions increased 68% compared with the 11 days before Feb. 23, a day when Italy reported a major outbreak of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
A gun store owner who says all his major suppliers are out of stock said, “It’s the whole nation that’s cleaned out…. It’s like toilet paper.”
Meanwhile, images and videos of people lining up outside gun stores in the United States are emerging on social media.
Amelia Adams, the US correspondent for Nine News tweeted a video of people lining up outside a gun shop in Los Angeles. Adams said in her tweet people were telling her they were “scared of what will happen if people run out of food and supplies, and they need to protect their families”.
Queues to buy guns in LA 😳
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
— Amelia Adams (@AmeliaAdams9) March 15, 2020
The U.S. death toll rose to 69 across 12 states on Sunday, with the total number of confirmed cases surging to 3,774. The worldwide death toll topped 6,500.
In the wake of the outbreak of Covid-19, panic-stricken Americans started hoarding toilet paper and have now left supermarkets, with barely any left. The Washington Post reported a run on the rolls, with both Costco and the Giant supermarket chain stripped all but clean. Even Amazon’s physical stores “appeared to be down to single rolls of novelty toilet paper in some places Friday,” the Post said. The New York Times similarly reported from a Whole Foods supermarket in Somerville, Mass., where shoppers had to be limited to two packages of toilet paper each, lest they strip the store bare.