Floridians stockpiling guns and ammo amid national crises
Florida continues to see record gun sales as the pandemic and civil unrest over the death of George Floyd rock the nation.
With more and more Floridians purchasing guns, Florida Democrats are increasingly concerned about recent comments from public officials warning and even urging citizens to shoot rioters and looters.
From January to May firearm background checks in Florida were up almost 48% compared to last year.
Pawn Shop owner Mark Folmar told us most of the sales early on were due to the pandemic.
“Concerned about their safety,” said Folmar.
And he’s seeing a new type of customer.
“People that had not previously owned guns or hadn't thought they needed one,” said Folmar.
The influx of new gun owners has Florida Democrats like State Senator Lori Berman concerned.
“Having a gun leads to more gun deaths, leads to more unnatural deaths,“ said Berman.
Store owners we’ve spoken with also report ammo sales are through the roof.
“What we've seen is people hoarding ammo like, well if I'm never able to get it again I'm going to buy all I can right now,” said Folmar.
Some public officials like Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd have even encouraged citizens to use firearms to protect their homes from looters.
“I'm highly recommending they blow you back out of the house with their gun,” said Judd.
And Representative Anthony Sabatini Tweeted a photo of an AR-15 as a warning to those who attempt to damage businesses.
Democratic State Senator Oscar Braynon is worried the rhetoric combined with more gun ownership could be a recipe for disaster.
“There's so many things that can go wrong with 'new gun ownership', I guess you could call it, and them encouraging that is only putting people in a worse position,” said Braynon.
Violent protests have largely deescalated over the past few days in Florida, but gun sales in May were up 75 percent nationwide and in many cities tensions remain high.
Former NRA President Marion Hammer told us in a statement, “I suspect the desire to exercise Second Amendment rights and buy firearms will continue as long as people feel the need to be ready to protect themselves and their families.”