Gun in hand
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COVID-19 and a surge in gun sales

Stephen Gutowski of the Washington Free Beacon reports on the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on gun sales.

Aaron Eaton learned how to shoot in the Army back in 2006 but holstered a pistol for the last time when he left in 2009 and took a job as a technician for a sewer company. That all changed on March 26 when the father of four walked out of an Alabama gun store with a Beretta 92FS, the same gun he handled as a military policeman at the height of the Iraq war.

“Simply put: I wanted peace of mind when it comes to the safety of my family,” Eaton said.

Eaton’s pistol was one of 2.3 million firearms to fly off the shelves in March, the single busiest month for gun sales ever. The Washington Free Beacon spoke to half a dozen new gun owners who purchased a total of six handguns and two shotguns. All of the new gun owners provided proof of purchase, though some asked not to have their last names published because of potential career backlash.

“To me, it’s all about protecting my family, and if a gun makes that easier, so be it,” Scott, a California tech worker with a wife and daughter, said.

Many of the new gun owners cited concerns about personal protection as states began emptying jail cells and police departments announced they would no longer enforce certain laws. Jake Wilhelm, a Virginia-based environmental consultant and lacrosse coach, purchased a Sig Sauer P226 after seeing Italy enact a nationwide lockdown on March 9.

“[My fiancée and I] came to the conclusion in early March that if a nation like Italy was going into full lockdown, we in the U.S. were likely on the same path,” Wilhelm said. “Given that, and knowing that police resources would be stretched to the max, I decided to purchase a handgun.”

Follow Carolina Journal Online’s continuing coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic here.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...