SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Experts say anxiety ahead of the election and rising COVID-19 cases are generating unrest, a resurgence of hoarding and record gun sales.
Many things that were once readily available are now gone from the shelves. A cycle of uncertainty for the last seven months is bringing people inside Drew Steptoe’s gun store.
“Sales spiked when COVID hit and then spiked again around the time the riots were happening. And now the elections are coming up and people don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.
Many of Steptoe’s shelves are empty and he said it’s hard to restock the guns and the ammunition that are in such high demand right now.
“I think the general feeling is ‘I need to protect my home’ at this point,” he said.
Steptoe added, “If there is civil unrest, there are issues, the reality is the police are not going to be able to get to you.”
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From civil unrest to COVID unrest, baking goods are flying off the shelves too. Centricity Inc, a platform that tracks e-commerce, is reporting a 3,400 percent spike in demand for baking goods in the last several works.
“There is a lot of unrest, a lot of anxiety. We are living in an unprecedented year,” said Magdalena Wojcieszak, a UC Davis communications professor.
She said right now people are experiencing job loss and uncertainty about the integrity of the election.
“It’s the heated presidential rhetoric, unprecedented political polarization in the United States,” Wojcieszak said.
She said it’s also what people are seeing in the media.
“What is discussed in the media becomes a problem or an issue or the reality for the public,” she said.
Steptoe said a lot of his sales have been to first time gun owners, people who noticed a friend had just purchased one.
“We’ve seen elderly, disabled. Every ethnicity and minority possible, every walk of life,” Steptoe said.
Many police departments report they have not received any credible threats of violence on election night. But that’s not stopping some people and businesses from getting ready.
“Stocking up open toilet paper, guns or discussing the possibility of electoral violence and they become afraid themselves,” Wojcieszak said.