While stores across the United States are seeing their shelves stripped of products like Purell, canned food, and, bizarrely, toilet paper, customers in and around Los Angeles have some different ideas about how to stock up for the coronavirus pandemic. Namely, they’re heading out in search of three essentials: Guns, alcohol, and marijuana.
In one sense, the rush to buy alcohol follows a certain logic. For one thing, it’s true that you may want to get drunk while the country goes into a full-scale economic shutdown. For another, you can use Everclear just as effectively as you can use normal hand sanitizer.
The L.A. Times reports:
Amid widespread shortages of hand sanitizer and hand wipes in supermarkets and drug stores, people are turning to a makeshift substitute — Everclear, a brand of 120-proof grain alcohol that has been flying off the shelves of a BevMo in Culver City.
“Normally, we sell a few bottles of that stuff a week,” store manager Paul Pabich said. “But word is spreading fast that at 120 proof, or 60% alcohol, it can kill any germ there is out there. We had 24 bottles in stock on Monday, and they were all sold by Thursday.”
Nodding appreciatively to an empty shelf reserved for bottles of Everclear that sell for $19.99 each, he shrugged and added, “It’s the way of the world right now, and we’re making a little money from it.”
That’s a pretty damn expensive bottle of hand sanitizer, but any port in a storm, right?
As for the weed…well. That’s expected. In the Netherlands, there were lines around the block outside their famed “coffee shops,” which double as marijuana dispensaries. Once the government ordered that these shops close down by the evening, Dutch people flocked to stock up on weed cookies and other assorted treats they may need to ride out the viral hurricane. It comes as little surprise to see them doing the same thing in California.
Now guns. That’s a different story.
“At Martin B. Retting Gun Shop in Culver City, a line of prospective customers stretched outside the door. Inside, they were shoulder to shoulder, waiting up to five hours for service. A fast-food truck was taking orders at the curb,” the L.A. Times reports. “The managers of the store declined to comment. It was a rare windfall of business for the store, but some people got tired of waiting and left empty handed.”
A rush to buy guns at a time like this speaks to darker fears lurking in the American consciousness. And with the stock market in freefall and economic signifiers looking extremely wobbly, it’s not difficult to figure out what those fears might be. All of a sudden, those people who have spent the last decade “doomsday prepping” seem well ahead of the curve.
Or maybe we’ll all look back at this period in a few months and laugh about how hysterical the country got.