Panic shopping extends to gun and ammunition, as sales skyrocket in Houston amid coronavirus concerns

SAN BRUNO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 16: People wait in line to purchase guns and ammunition at Peninsula Guns and Tactical on March 16, 2020 in San Bruno, California. Six San Francisco Bay Area counties announced a shelter-in-place order for residents in San Francisco until April 7th. The order says that people stay at home and will allow people to leave their homes to do essential tasks such as grocery shopping and pet walking. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) (2020 Getty Images)

HOUSTON – Panic shopping has seen toilet paper, bottled water, hand sanitizer and uncooked meat flying off the shelves of stores as people stock up amid a coronavirus outbreak. In Texas, there is another set of products that people are rapidly buying — guns and ammunition.

KPRC 2 spoke to a man in Houston about his recent experience trying to buy ammunition. He asked to remain anonymous.

“They were out [of 9mm ammo] everywhere — TopGun, Dicks, Academy — you name it, they were out,” he said.

Ammunition sales are known to peak during times of crisis, but the coronavirus outbreak shows Houstonians aren’t just prioritizing health.

Russell Molina, CEO of PPI Security in Houston, believes the big reason is that people jump to the “worst-case scenario."

“When there are fears and uncertainties in people’s minds, they think of the worst-case scenario. When those worst-case scenarios come to life, people think about how they’re going to handle them. Some people say, ‘I’m going to protect my family with a gun.’ Well, now you need ammo for that gun. It becomes a cycle," Molina said.

Ammo.com reported a 309% revenue increase between the end of February and March 15.

Molina compared the uptick in sales to those during a hurricane. He said his private investigation company has seen a similar increase in business.

This isn’t just a statewide reaction. There have been long lines at gun stores around the country.

Most gunstores KPRC 2 tried to reach out to in Houston were too busy to talk Friday.

“We’re too busy today, buddy. Sorry,” a store employee said.

Another Houston resident, who asked to go by the initials E.B., said he bought 3,000 rounds of 9mm ammo.

“I went to the gun store down the street from me and they were out of everything. Ammo is like gold right now,” E.B. said. “I’m used to loading up on things in general…so when I saw this was coming, one of the first things I did was stock order ammo.”

E.B. claims a number of people contacted him, "and asked for help with buying a gun.” This might mean a lot of people who aren’t already gun owners, have a new interest in buying firearms.