Oregon may be sheltering in place, but the gun business is booming. In the month since the virus was first documented in the state, Oregonians have been adding guns and ammo to their list of must-have items to stockpile.
According to a database maintained by the Oregon State Police, nearly 40,000 background checks were conducted between February 29 and March 22. Compare this to the more typical number of between 22,000 and 28,000. Although some cities and states consider guns sales to be non-essential, Governor Brown’s stay-home mandate does not include firearms stores as belonging to this category.
It is not entirely clear why the uptick in sales. There is usually a spike in purchases around the holidays, and also when proposed legislation threatens gun ownership. This particular buying spree, however, seems to be more related to panic at the uncertainty of life under the government shut-down. There are many first-time buyers among those 40,000.
With businesses closed and workers laid off, folks may be anticipating home invasions or some sort of breakdown of law and order. In an article from the Oregonian, Bend shop owner Scott Wyke says that fear has led many people to his store. “Most are nervous and scared — they’ve thought about it before and now they can justify it,” he says. “They can protect themselves if the world falls apart.”
Although this philosophy has a certain appeal, law enforcement is quick to point out that there is no lag in police response that should encourage citizens to take the law into their own hands.