People buying guns and ammo to fight coronavirus?

Coronavirus fear is gripping people globally. Such fear has resulted in a drop in sales for many products and also a rise in sales for many due to panic buying. We have already seen reports of people stocking up on toilet paper, sanitizers and other essentials. The hoarding among buyers for such items is somewhat understandable, but there is one very un-related product that people are queuing up to buy – Guns. Yes, you heard it right; Gun and ammo sales are soaring over Coronavirus concerns.

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Gun sales soar over fear of social unrest due to Coronavirus

Ever since the number of Coronavirus cases started climbing in the U.S., sales of guns and ammunition have also seen a rise. Following the outbreak, people are expecting possible social unrest, and thus, are turning to firearms for self-protection. Long lines of people queuing up outside gun stores are a common thing now on the west coast.

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As per the gun shop owners, such a sharp rise in the demand of guns is unprecedented, and that they haven’t seen anything like this since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut in 2012.

Moreover, the type of guns that people are buying is also indicating their fear. As per the gun shop owners, people are showing no interest in hunting rifles. Rather, they are going for the target guns and AR-15 semi-automatic assault-style rifles.

Data on gun sales

Ammo.com, a major online dealer of ammunition, has shared sales figures from Feb. 23 to March 4. During this period, the online retailer saw a 68% jump in sales when compared to the sales of 11 days up to Feb. 23.

“We know certain things impact ammo sales, mostly political events or economic instability when people feel their rights may end up infringed, but this is our first experience with a virus leading to such a boost in sales," Ammo.com’s marketing manager, Alex Horsman said in a statement.

State wise, North Carolina and Georgia have seen a jump of 179% and 169%, respectively, in the sales of guns following the coronavirus outbreak, Ammo.com said. Other states that have witnessed a large jump in gun sales are Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas and New York.

Other reasons for upsurge in sales

A few reports also say that the recent spike in gun sales in Washington State and California could be largely attributed to the Asian-American customers. As per the reports, such buyers fear racist backlash over the outbreak, which originated from China.

“People are panicking because they don’t feel secure. They worry about a riot or maybe that people will start to target the Chinese,” a Los Angeles-based Chinese-American gun dealer, David Liu, told the Trace.

Apart from the fear of social unrest, another reason why some may be buying guns is the declaration of a national emergency. Many potential buyers would be buying out of fear that the government may not allow them to do so in the near future.

People saw similar behavior immediately after mass shootings in the U.S. Also, the spike in gun sales has been seen during presidential election years and also during stock market fluctuations. Along with the sale of guns, demand for survival gear, such as ballistic body armor, knives, flashlights, bulletproof vests, medical kits, and more are also on the rise.

Rise in Coronavirus related gun sales: good or bad

Rising sales of guns and ammunition following Coronavirus have pushed up the stocks of publicly-traded gun sellers as well. Gun sellers including American Outdoor Brands, Sturm, Ruger & Co., Vista Outdoor and more saw a jump in their stock price yesterday even when the broad market performed badly.

Based on the data from Background checks for gun purchases through the FBI system, a total of 2.8 million guns were purchased in February, an increase of 36% compared to the same period last year. This is the biggest year-over-year increase since 2016.

The National Rifle Assn. and other 2nd Amendment advocates are welcoming this upsurge in sale guns and ammunition.

“You don’t need it, till you need it,” Donald Trump Jr. said in a recent tweet.

Those who are against the uptick in sales say that this sudden rise in Coronavirus related gun sales does give rise to one more concern. With schools closed and weapons at home, there are concerns over the safety of kids. In the list of the most prevalent killer of children in the U.S., firearms are second only to car accidents. As per the data from the University of Michigan school of public health, gun injuries are the biggest cause of death for those in the 14- to 17-year-old bracket.