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Gun sales surge in El Paso during virus pandemic

EL PASO, Texas -- Demand has been high for many household goods during the pandemic. You might expect shoppers to clear store shelves of hand sanitizer and food during the pandemic, but another less likely product has been seeing sales surge too: guns.

Weapons and ammunition sales have surged all across the country. FBI background checks were up 32% this May compared to last.

"It's dramatic," said Jeremy Scott Drake, who owns Drake Fine Sporting Arms in El Paso, "to a point where our suppliers and distributors are completely out of stock of anything that anybody would want."

Sales at Drake's store have surged over the past few months since the virus started to spread in the area.

"We're also seeing a big push in people that may not have been a gun owner in the past and now they're wanting one," Drake said.

Drake says he's not seeing as drastic of an increase with products that might used for hunting, like rifles, but rather for personal defense weapons like pistols.

"There's no rhyme or reason behind what people are buying," Drake said. "I think this is more of an eye-opening thing, the potential that maybe they (customers) might be on their own. That's a real fear for people."

One psychiatrist with Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso says guns could give people a sense of control amidst the uncertainty that has come with the pandemic.

"No one really knew what was going on," Dr. Fabrizzio Delgado said. "No one really knew how to treat it and no one really knew how long it's going be. We still don't know. That was the reason why so many people were feeling a sense of fear, a sense of loss of control."

Dr. Delgado says the trends in sales do not surprise him, but he believes they will stabilize soon as more businesses reopen and the world feels more like it used to.

Drake hopes new customers will take the responsibility seriously.

"My advice would be that if you're not a previous gun owner, you're not previously familiar with weapons and things like that, familiarize yourself. Take classes," he said. "Do those things to protect yourself and the people around you."

Article Topic Follows: El Paso

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Madeline Ottilie

Madeline Ottilie is a reporter on Good Morning El Paso and co-anchors ABC-7 at noon.


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