News Coronavirus Demand for guns soars as Americans prepare for coronavirus chaos

Demand for guns soars as Americans prepare for coronavirus chaos

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Americans queue outside an LA gun store at the weekend. Photo: AAP
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Australians have gone mad for toilet paper and hand sanitiser as the threat of the deadly coronavirus looms ever larger.

In the US, one of the biggest runs has been on guns and ammunition.

Amid widespread shortages of consumer products across the US, guns are one of the most popular items.

At one Los Angeles shop, customers waited more than five hours to be served at the weekend. The queue stretched out the door and a fast-food truck outside took orders for hungry shoppers.

Among them was a medical doctor who would give only his first name, Ray. He told the Los Angeles Times he’d come to buy his first gun.

“I want to buy a handgun, I think they call it a Glock, but I’m not sure,” he said. “I have a house and a family, and they’ll need protection if things get worse.

“The fear is that civil services will break down.”

Another customer, John Gore, 39, was in furious agreement.

“Politicians and antigun people have been telling us for the longest time that we don’t need guns,” he said.

“But right now, a lot of people are truly scared, and they can make that decision themselves.”

The US has reported more than 3700 cases of coronavirus so far. Of those, there have been 69 deaths and 73 patients have recovered.

However, there are fears the numbers of COVID-19 cases in the US has been underreported because testing has been difficult to come by for many people.

The rush to buy guns was not unique to suburban LA. Online retailer Widener’s Reloading and Shooting Supply said its ammunition sales had doubled on a year ago.

“It’s clear our customers want to be prepared in a worst-case scenario,” spokesman Jacob Long told American Rifleman (a National Rifle Association publication).

“For a lot of our families, a disaster plan includes having ammo on hand.”

Danny Garcia, manager of North Carolina’s Money Quick Pawn and Guns, said handgun and rifle ammunition sales had jumped in recent months.

“February was a record sales month,” he said. “Talking with our customers, we are hearing the increase is due to both the prospect of a coronavirus outbreak and the pending elections.”

In San Francisco’s north, Raymond Prather told Fox News customers were also flocking to buy ready to eat meals from his military surplus store.

“We’re bringing pallets up all the time now, and even our supplier in southern California is having trouble keeping them in stock,” he said.

The compact meal packets are usually bought by bushwalkers and campers.

In southern California, David Liu,who owns Arcadia Firearm and Safety in the San Gabriel Valley, told CBSN he was worried and he recently purchased a gun for his wife.

One customer, Daniel Lim, said he wanted his family to be able to protect themselves. He also said he hoped predictions of a financial crisis springing from the spread of COVID-19, and the potential social disorder that might follow, were wrong.

-with agencies