Ralph Charette, 71, said he bought a gun and ammunition on Saturday to protect himself and his family as a wave of coronavirus panic swept across the country.
Charette, a military veteran, spent $ 1,500 at a gun store in Germantown, Wisconsin, after meeting aggressive buyers and empty shelves at local grocery stores.
Now if looters strike, he will be ready, he says.
“There is so much uncertainty and paranoia, but you have to protect yours,” said Charette.
Charette is part of a growing wave of Americans who go to retailers, pawnbrokers and online to buy weapons and handgun ammunition as a result of COVID-19, which had killed more than 60 people in the United States Saturday afternoon.
As the hysteria surrounding the disease prompts some to store groceries and toilet paper in case they are quarantined, this also raises fears of a shortage of firearms, which which increases demand and leads to long queues at suppliers.
Coronavirus: As employers weigh on layoffs, these job lists are increasing
Long lines formed outside of the Martin Retting Guns store in Culver City, California on Sunday morning before the store opened. People said the line on Saturday was so long, Lying around the block, Sothey decided to come back and try again.
Many have said they are looking for additional protection, primarily ammunition, in case the virus shuts down most businesses.
The trend continued outside the Turner’s Outdoorsman store in Torrance, California, before the opening.
People are scared, said Drew Plotkin of Los Angeles. There is a lot of panic in the world and people want to be protected in the worst case.
In New Castle, Delaware, 22-year-old Emily Ken bought ammunition over the weekend for her 9mm handgun before “Last Judgment preparers” could buy the entire stock, he said. she declared.
Kenwent went to a Dick & # 39; s sporting goods store where she said that one of the workers had told her that everywhere else in the area was exhausted.
“It is better to be prepared than not to be prepared,” said Ken. “I’ve already filled up on food. The ammunition was only the next step.”
As the frenzied storage of gun stores stripped of inventory, more and more people were going online to order gun supplies.
“We know that certain things have an impact on the sales of ammunition, mainly political events or economic instability when people think that their rights can end up being violated, but this is our first experience with a virus leading to such an increase in sales, “said Alex Horsman, chief marketing officer. on Ammo.com in a press release.
The website reported a 68% increase in sales between mid-February and early March. Online orders were the most successful in North Carolina and Georgia. However, purchases of ammunition have also increased in Florida, which has more than 100 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and in New York, with more than 700 cases of respiratory disease.
Retailers are also limiting the amount of ammunition that people can buy despite supply shortages.
Greg Reynders, 62, bought 250 rounds of ammunition on Saturday, the maximum that an indoor shooting range in Saint-Louis would allow in the wake of growing demand.
“They were completely out of the cheapest bulk ammunition,” said Reynders. He also bought a 9mm handgun to protect himself in case someone tried to steal his grocery store if there were new shortages.
“Right now, local stores have supplies of toilet paper, water and things like that,” said Reynders. “But if they don’t replenish as quickly as people want, my main concern is that someone comes to me as I get out of Target and try to take what I bought. “
Contributor: Jefferson Graham
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