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San Diego Gun Stores See Huge Uptick In Sales Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

AO Sword Firearms owner David Chong displays a shotgun inside his El Cajon st...

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Above: AO Sword Firearms owner David Chong displays a shotgun inside his El Cajon store, March 19, 2020.

While some businesses are struggling or closing during the coronavirus outbreak, gun stores are seeing a huge uptick in sales.

"We’re running out of guns," said AO Sword Firearms owner David Chong. AO Sword Firearms is located in El Cajon and business has been way up recently.

"About 10 times our normal sales," Chong said.

Chong is seeing lots of first-time gun buyers, most saying coronavirus hysteria is the reason for their purchase.

"Ninety percent of our customers — hundreds of guns — are going to people who have not owned guns before," Chong said. "(They) haven’t felt they needed a gun before. Now they say, 'Wow, this is the only way I’ll be able to personally protect myself from other people.'"

Chong's shop has been so busy lately that people are forced to line up outside and wait.

Reported by Matt Hoffman , Video by Matthew Bowler

"Craziest things in the world, coronavirus. (I) just want to have something at home to protect myself if something happens," said first-time gun buyer Yahya Alshalali.

"People are getting crazy over this coronavirus, and I want to be able to protect myself and protect my family," said El Cajon resident Daniel Frank.

Chong said a lot of first-time buyers are looking for shotguns or handguns. Some are unaware that they cannot walk away with a gun the same day they buy it. In California, there is a mandatory 10 day waiting period, plus people have to pass a background check and a safety test — but that’s not stopping buyers.

"I expect to be completely out of inventory in the next two weeks," Chong said.

Chong considers firearms an important piece of public safety and that’s partially why he’s staying open.

"We truly believe in our heart of hearts that firearms and ammunition provide for public safety and in this public health emergency, we still want to continue to provide that public safety," he said.

Ammunition is also in short supply right now. Soon Chong and other gun store owners may find themselves scrambling for inventory.

Meantime, the store is taking precautions to limit potential exposure to the coronavirus. Only six people are allowed inside at one time. Waiting customers can sit outside in chairs that are spaced apart for social distancing.

A spokesman from political action committee San Diego County Gun Owners, who represents many in the local gun industry, said many firearm stores across the county are also seeing a large uptick in sales.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

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Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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