Updated March 17, 2020 - 4:15 pm
Local gun shops say Las Vegans are clearing their shelves amid growing coronavirus fears.
“People are going to protect their house; now they want to protect their toilet paper,” said Mark Hames, co-owner of 2nd Amendment Gun Shop, 4570 N. Rancho Drive. “That’s been the joke around here.”
He said business has been booming the past two weeks, but he saw the biggest change last week. He said the store sold out of shotguns Thursday, before people started transitioning to 9 mm pistols. Hames said he’s never seen the store flooded with this many customers.
He said “the unknown” is what’s driving so many people to buy guns, citing a fear of martial law.
“The bad guys come out, but the good guys don’t,” Hames said. “That’s the kind of stuff everybody is worried about.”
Joseph Potter, a salesman at Elite Firearms, 6985 W. Sahara Ave., said crowds completely depleted the store’s supply.
“First, there was a run on toilet paper, then there was a run on food, and now, obviously, it’s the run on weapons and ammo,” he said.
Potter said most customers are looking for 9 mm pistols and shotguns, and 9 mm ammunition has been cleared out as soon as it hit the shelves.
“I think that people haven’t necessarily been to different places where things like this have happened, so they don’t know how to react,” he said. “Panic is their default reaction.”
Greg White, a salesman at Controlled Pair Munitions, 7350 W. Cheyenne Ave., said his store is selling out of ammunition pretty much as soon as it hits the shelves.
“This will all be gone as soon as people know we have it,” White said, as he stuck price stickers onto boxes of 9 mm ammunition.
White believes people are stocking up on guns and ammo because they’re afraid of an uptick in crime as people self-quarantine.
“People are stocking up on food and toilet paper and locking themselves in their houses,” White said. “I think they’re afraid people are going to try to rob them, either at home or outside of stores.”
Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Larry Hadfield said Tuesday afternoon that the department hasn’t seen a change in crime in recent weeks.
“We haven’t seen any major increases involving shoppers, with the exception of traffic direction,” Hadfield said.
Michael Aird, a regular customer at Controlled Pair Munitions, said people are overreacting. He said he’s seen some shops charging more than four times the usual price for ammunition, and friends have asked him if they can buy from him.
“But ultimately, whatever happens is going to happen, no matter how much you prepare,” Aird said. “So you’ve just got to live your life.”