JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Concerns surrounding the new coronavirus are sending many people to area gun stores to stock up on ammunition.
About 3 p.m. Tuesday, there was a line of people waiting to get into Shooters on University Boulevard, as the store was keeping to the Jacksonville mayor’s order banning establishments from having more than 50 customers inside at once.
Across town at Green Acres Sporting Goods, there was not a long line, but there was a lot of foot traffic coming through the door. Store manager Z. Farhat said multiple cases of bullets are being purchased at a surprising rate.
“I’ve never seen anything like this. I see people have real panic," Farhat said.
Tamatha Higdon, who purchased several cases of ammunition at Green Acres, said she had already been to another gun store that was completely out of bullets earlier in the day.
“I think people are just trying to protect themselves in case they have to stay inside their homes. Just to be safe and take care of their family," Higdon said.
Farhat said the mad rush to purchase ammunition is driven by anxiety over COVID-19. Some businesses are closing and grocery stores are running low or selling out of tissue paper and medical supplies.
“They’re worried that if this thing goes longer in the months, and first responders and all are not able to help people in a situation, they want to be able to protect themselves," Farhat said.
And for many gun owners who waited in lines to get into a gun store or were seen grabbing ammunition, protecting themselves starts with making sure they don’t run out of bullets.
The rush to go out and buy ammunition actually started last week when confirmed cases of the coronavirus were reported in Northeast Florida. Now that rush has increased after businesses started shutting their doors.
News4Jax also called Academy Sports + Outdoors about 5:30 p.m. and learned the store was running low on ammunition at that time.