TULSA, Okla.: David Stone snagged a cardboard box of .223-caliber ammunition from the shelf and slid it across the glass countertop, offering his go-to sales pitch: “Welcome to the biggest selection of ammunition in all of Oklahoma.”
not sure I can keep on saying that,” Stone said, explaining that the supply of
goods at Dong’s Guns, Ammo and Reloading has been seriously depleted over the
last few days.
“When I say sales have been booming,” he said, “it’s
Gun sales are surging in
many U.S. states, especially in those hit hardest by the coronavirus —
California, New York and Washington. But there’s also been an uptick in
less-affected areas, with some first-time gun buyers fearing an unraveling of
the social order and some gun owners worried that the government might use its
emergency powers to restrict gun purchases.
Stone’s packed store
shares a small strip of road with a church, a cemetery and another gun shop,
and in recent days he has sold several firearms to truckers traveling along Interstate
44 here in Oklahoma. One trucker, who was headed to Arizona, bought $2,500
worth of firearms and ammunition, and another trucker, who was headed to
Illinois, dropped $200 on ammunition alone.
“You got to be protected
for all sorts of stuff,” Stone said. “Seems like the world has gone mad.”
In California, would-be
customers formed a long line outside the Martin B. Retting gun shop in Culver City
on Sunday, just as others had Saturday.
anti-gun people have been telling us for the longest time that we don’t need
guns,” said John Gore, 39, part of the crush of customers Saturday. “But right
now, a lot of people are truly scared, and they can make that decision
Ammo.com, an online retailer of
ammunition, has also seen a recent increase in sales. According to the company,
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.
Some gun control groups have
raised concerns about children out of school for the next several weeks, which
could result in more children and teens being killed in homes with unsecured
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.
The National Rifle Assn. and other 2nd Amendment
advocates have been applauding the uptick in firearms sales, including
automatic weapons. “You don’t need it, till you need it,” Donald Trump Jr.
The irony of it all is that it’s my Democrat friends
reaching out to me now asking me which guns they should buy just in case... in
particular which ARs.
I guess they’re ok with the 2A now???
You don’t need it, till you need it. https://twitter.com/JackPosobiec/status/1238890240108044288 …
Illegal! https://twitter.com/donaldjtrumpjr/status/1238835353806680065 …
5:09 PM - Mar 14, 2020
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According to various reports, the surge in gun sales started several weeks ago
in states such as Washington and California, and included large numbers of
Asian Americans, some fearful of anti-Asian backlash over the coronavirus.
At Laguna Guns &
Accessories in Elk Grove, south of Sacramento, the shop’s owner said he has
seen a recent run on his inventory, with many Asian customers stopping into the
store, but others too. Over the last week in Elk Grove, an elderly woman died
of COVID-19 in a senior care facility, and the area’s school district — one of
the largest in California — was one of the state’s earliest to close.
“It’s panic,” said
George, the shop owner, who would consent to the use of only his first name.
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.”
In Tulsa on Sunday afternoon,
the click of magazines jamming inside handguns reverberated off the
cinder-block walls of Dong’s Guns. Dozens of people — many of whom seemed utterly
unfazed by warnings to stay home and practice social distancing — filtered in
and out of the shop.
When approached by a
reporter, one man refused to answer questions if he couldn’t first get a
handshake. Nearby, another man walked the aisles in search of a scope for his
Brandon Jay, 37, said
his interest in the gun shop had nothing to do with the coronavirus. He was
here to protect himself from a neighbor who has made threats.
“It’s the flu 2.0,” he
said, shaking his head. “People all scared of this — it’s the flu. It’s some
made up stuff from the coasts.”
With seven confirmed cases
of the coronavirus and no deaths, Oklahoma — unlike California or Washington —
hasn’t experienced the hour-by-hour updates of the pandemic’s spread. Though
Jay is skeptical of the risks, he said he was encouraged to see more people
“If this hysteria is helping
the cause, then that’s great,” he said. “Strap up.”
Less than a mile down a
two-lane road from Dong’s, Bryan Pratt grabbed an AR-15 pistol from the back of
his pickup truck in the parking lot of 2A Shooting Center. Pratt, who likes to
shoot his firearm for sport most weekends, said the parking lot was unusually
“There’s no sports games on,” he said, “so I guess
people want to shoot.”
Pratt said he wasn’t yet
worried about the virus — maybe when there are more cases in the area, he said.
“I’m not there yet,” he
said, gripping his gun case and jogging inside.
He had reserved a lane
for an hour and didn’t want to waste time.
----------Lee reported from Tulsa, Okla., and
Chabria from Sacramento. Times staff writer Louis Sahagun in Los Angeles
contributed to this report.