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Gun sales are soaring. And it's not just conservatives stocking up

By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

"They're concerned about the long-term path of the country," he said. "And just like they were hoarding toilet paper, they're hoarding guns and ammo."

Left-leaning retirees have been coming through the doors in droves, waiting in lines alongside ranchers and overlooking the blue Trump-Pence posters that hang near the hunting rifles.

Winton said many are like the older couple that recently came in to buy a gun for the first time.

"They were self-described Berkeley liberals who said they were preparing for the coming societal collapse," he said.

Adding to the ammo shortage is Inez Russell, a writer in Santa Fe, who said she was worried about right-wing militias that have staged protests around the state.

"Either side feels like if their side loses, the country is coming to an end," she said. "And one side has more guns than the other."

 

Lately, Russell has been doing more target shooting and working on her gun-loading skills.

"I find shooting very calming because you have to really concentrate and be in the moment," she said. "It is very satisfying to have control in such a tumultuous world."

The COVID-19 pandemic, economic uncertainty and a summer of civil unrest in response to police killings of unarmed Black people have raised national anxieties like no time in recent memory, said Florida State University sociologist Benjamin Dowd-Arrow, who studies gun owners.

Nationally, homicides have surged during the pandemic, climbing 15% nationwide in the first half of 2020, according to the FBI. The reasons are unclear, although some observers speculate that it may have to do with the shaky economy or with officers pulling back from their duties because of greater community distrust in police.

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