A gun, just in case | USA elections

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Rifles at a gun store in Manassas, Virginia.Anadolu Agency / Getty

"The main buyer, now, is someone politically liberal who had never owned a gun." Whoops. The reporter appears to be a potential Johnson Firearms client. George, who runs the store today (the manager, Josh, is elsewhere), says sales have exploded (pun intended) and that restocking has become a problem. “The race riots, the pandemic and the fear of violence erupting after the elections”: these are, according to George, the reasons that business is going so well.

Traditionally, Johnson Firearms' clientele, and that of every other arms dealer in the United States, was largely composed of conservative white men. It is estimated that one out of every two members of this population strip owns at least one pistol or revolver. These people, therefore, already have their basic needs covered. With the wave of fear sweeping through the country, it is the neophytes, those who lack experience and had never considered the need to defend themselves by shooting, who make purchases. Just in case.

"I recommend that you watch tutorials on YouTube, there are many, and that you practice as much as you can in the shooting gallery or in the backyard of your house," says a salesman to a man who is weighing a semiautomatic pistol and that, Judging by how awkwardly he tries to move the slide, he's not used to handling this sort of thing. In the end the man does not decide, he doubts between several models. A little later, the reporter will approach you on the street to ask you. "I prefer to come with my wife because we will keep the gun at home and we must both be able to use it," he says. For what? "These are tough times, you know, self-defense," he responds, as he sneaks off to his car.

The figures are staggering. Between January 1 and September 30, the FBI has tallied 28.8 million checks. In this case, the check is the necessary check to grant a license to whoever buys a gun for the first time. Such quantity had never been reached.

At Johnson Firearms they offer everything from pepper spray to spectacular assault rifles. The flagship product, however, is the Glock 17 pistol. “The public knows that it is the short weapon used by most police forces and, therefore, they perceive it as solid and reliable. It really is. To understand each other ”, explains George,“ it is the pistol equivalent of the AK-47 ”. The AK-47 is better known as Kalashnikov, named after its Soviet inventor.

Don't picture George as a grim-looking muscular guy. Rather, he remembers Bill Gates when he was young: boyish face and high-pitched voice. He exudes kindness, like any of his salespeople. There is a diversity of races and sex among the public during the reporter's visit.

The Austrian-made Glock 17 is a “plastic” (polymer) pistol, light (just over half a kilo unloaded) and comfortable to handle with both hands. The reporter checks it. The magazine contains 17 rounds of 9 millimeters. "For ease of use and low recoil, it is the ideal pistol for men and women unfamiliar with guns," recites the seller. "Plus, it's moderately priced." There are a ton of variants of the Glock 17, and they're all around $ 500.

In Miami it is not allowed to carry guns in public places, except in special cases, but (once the license is registered, which is easily processed by the business itself) there is no problem in having a gun at home or in the glove compartment of the car. If you use it against someone who enters your house or car without permission, don't worry: you won't even go to court.

On the door of the Johnson Armory there is a sign allowing entry with weapons. With a couple of remarks that sound ironic: “Please keep the weapon in its holster unless a need arises. In that case, good aim will be appreciated. " Another sign, taped up, asks people to wear a mask and keep their distance in the queues that form on the street. The establishment is very spacious, but on Saturdays the capacity easily overflows and may require a wait of half an hour. These are glorious times for the personal weapons industry.

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