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NC – SELF – PROTECTION – Wilmington gun sales increase: ‘I think people are scared for their lives.’

Fear of downtown protests appear to be driving gun sales. Gun sales have soared in the Wilmington-area over the past month. According to several retailers, sales started to increase in March following the COVID-19 outbreak but shot through the roof at the beginning of June. “It started out with COVID-19 and everybody being confined to their homes and then escalated after the protests,” Justin King, general manger of BullZeye Shooting Sports, said of the sales increase. “Summers usually are our slowest months and now they’re pretty busy.” Protests against police violence began in Wilmington on May 30, culminating the next day when New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office deputies dispersed large crowds downtown with tear gas. In the aftermath, gun retailers believe more locals have begun to arm themselves in the face of growing unrest. “I’d say the civil unrest has produced more firearm sales than the outbreak,” said Josh Watkins, regional manager of Pawn South Oleander. “I think a lot of people are nervous about the rioting and if it’s going to spread to residential areas.” All but one retailer referred to protests as riots — though demonstrations have largely been peaceful and incurred minimal property damage. Many gun retailers said they have seen an upsurge in first-time buyers. “I think people are scared for their lives and some people who have never had guns before in their lives are scared for their property,” said Sherwood Caraway, owner and operator of S&D Gunshows. Similarly, Ryan Radley, operations manager of Best Shot Gun Range and Training, said the store’s been “overwhelmed” with customers. “We have a huge amount of ladies coming in on ladies nights, most of whom have never fired a gun in their life,” said Radley, estimating more than 200 women have attended the session over the past two weeks. “We went from averaging 4 to 9 people an event (before protests) to anywhere between 20 to 40.” Watkins said more people were seeking legal questions about firearms.  [full article]

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