In the wake of the assault last week on the U.S. Capitol, some local gun store owners are saying that customers are flocking to their shops.
Jonathan Solomon, owner of Redstone Firearms, said he has seen an increase in gun sales of about 30% to 40%, with a substantial number of customers being first-time firearm buyers. Many of the customers, he added, mentioned the attack on the Capitol building by supporters of President Donald Trump on Jan. 6 as their reason to purchase a gun.
The riot, aimed at overturning Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election, left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer and a man who suffered a heart attack.
“Anytime there’s any kind of civil unrest, gun sales do spike,” said James Janya, co-owner of Guns Direct, “because people are a little bit concerned about what’s going on in this country.”
Janya said customers waited up to 1½ hours to purchase a firearm on Monday, though his store appeared to be less busy later in the week. Like Solomon, Janya said many of the patrons were new gun owners, with some coming from as far away as San Diego and Bakersfield.
This isn’t the first time in recent memory that gun store owners have had long lines of customers stretching out their doors. Gun sales also spiked during the early months of the pandemic and amid summer protests for police reform, according to the Brookings Institution.
“Right now, it’s just different reasons for folks to either come in and become armed or extend their previous [weaponry],” Solomon said.
According to FBI data, nearly 39.7 million firearm background checks were run in 2020, far surpassing the prior year’s record of 28.47 million — though the agency cautions that the number of actual firearms sold is different because of state laws and purchase scenarios.
Some Burbank City Council members took a few minutes during their Tuesday meeting to condemn the violence at the Capitol after someone asked them during public comment to address the events.
“It’s our job as City Council members to respond and make sure that … our departments are ready to respond,” Councilman Jess Talamantes said. “As to what happened last week, it was very embarrassing, as far as I’m concerned. It just took the United States of America several notches down from where we were.”
Assistant City Manager Judie Wilkie also said that the Burbank Police Department is prepared to respond to threats, with a detective specifically assigned to respond to hate crimes and conspiracy theories.
“I want our residents, businesses and everyone to feel assured that the Police Department, our community and our city [are] prepared to respond and address any of those issues that come to our attention,” she added.
Janya believes that more people are buying guns because they’re afraid of how the country has become more divided, adding that both Republicans and Democrats are purchasing firearms from his store.
“It seems like everybody’s raising the temperature instead of lowering the temperature,” he said.