Run on guns, ammo sparked by ‘growing panic’ surrounding coronavirus outbreak in Texas
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First it was toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
Now, as the coronavirus continues to spread, Texans are making a run on ammunition and guns, leaving some store shelves bare.
“It’s a growing panic,” said Kenny Frazier, owner of the Crazy Gun Dealer in Alvarado. “As people find box stores out and small dealers out, the fear seems to be growing.
“We stock deep so we are fine, but are limiting ammo to go with matching gun purchase only,” he said. “I think this is (a) short term scare but (it) really will depend on if (the) virus truly gets really worse or dies down quickly.”
Some people are stocking up out of fear that supplies will dwindle as more COVID-19 cases are identified. Others are first time gun owners who want to make sure they have a sizeable stockpile.
Political fears also play into sales, gun owners say, as some fear that officials — particularly if a Democrat is elected to the White House later this year — will try to limit or restrict access to firearms.
Curtis Van Liew, an instructor and owner of Eagle Defensive Solutions, has been among those searching for ammunition.
“We have students who rent guns and ammo from us,” he said. “I have to be able to provide it to them.”
In one class, Van Liew said, a group of 10 people generally will use 200 rounds of ammunition each.
He has been able to buy ammunition recently, but he found several stores that were sold out.
“Toilet paper, hand sanitizer and ammo — they are all gone,” he said.
Jesse Molina, manager at Purple Heart Pawn and Guns, said gun sales are strong.
But he said they generally are right now, when people get tax refunds. That’s when they usually come back and pick up items they previously pawned.
“This time of year, it’s hard to say whether (sales are strong) because of coronavirus or because they got their tax refund,” he said.
But Terry Holcomb, a pastor and executive director of Texas Carry, said he’s seen and heard about the panic — and the panic shopping for guns and ammunition.
“There’s a lot of fear going around right now,” he said. “Typically it’s people who aren’t prepared. We saw the same thing with food and toilet paper. People are just reacting. The stores are empty now.”
Holcomb urged gun owners to remain calm.
“A lot is general fear of the unknown,” he said. “No supply lines are disrupted. This isn’t like a hurricane. They’re going to keep stocking.
“Everyone needs to calm down, be a community, work together to get through this and help your neighbor.”
Brady United Against Gun Violence officials say they are concerned about the uptick in gun and ammunition sales.
“People aren’t just stocking up on handguns or hunting rifles — they’re buying deadly AR-15-style assault weapons,” according to a fundraising email the group sent this week. “But extensive research shows MORE guns don’t make us safer. This is especially true during a time of anxiety around COVID-19.
“New and inexperienced gun owners, unsafe storage, and hysteria — all while being confined to the home — are a disturbing mix that can lead to a rise in gun-related injuries and deaths,” the email stated.
The Brady group is urging passage of “lifesaving gun safety legislation” and working to raise $30,000 “to fund our COVID-19 response and mitigate gun violence during this crisis.”
Sales of gun and ammunition have gone up in recent election years, particularly in 2008, before and after Democrat Barack Obama was elected president.
Sales also spiked in 2012, when Obama was re-elected, and in 2016, when Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump were running for the White House.
“People are afraid Democrats are going to get back in control as president,” Van Liew said, adding that ammunition and guns likely won’t be fully stocked until after the November general election.
So he recommends that Texans start looking early if they need ammunition or guns. And he recommends people buy it when they find it.
But they don’t need to have “a panic response” and stockpile far more than they’ll need.
For now, he said, “supply and demand isn’t keeping up.”
“Coronavirus opened a lot of people’s eyes,” he said. “If this can happen, what else could happen?”
Original Story From: Fort Worth Star Telegram
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