IT WAS Y2K all over again.
For hundreds in the Seattle area, Tuesday's terrorist attacks were confirmation of something they'd been saying, whether or not anyone was listening, for years: If we don't protect ourselves, nobody will.
Local gun shop owners said sales spiked dramatically in the days following the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., as gun owners poured in to stock up on ammo and non-gun owners "finally realized things can hit home," according to Moe, the owner of Federal Way Discount Guns. (Without exception, gun shop owners and employees contacted by the Weekly did not want to provide their last names.) "I had one customer who told me, 'I've been anti-gun, and I'm a Democrat. As of yesterday, I don't know if I'm still a Democrat, but I do know I need a gun,'" Moe says.
A similar scene played out at Bear Arms gun shop in Kent, where sales of guns and ammo tripled on Thursday, according to Bob, who answered the phone at the store. At AMS Guns in Woodinville, sales doubled on Tuesday, according to Kathy, owner of the gun shop for 20 years. "People realize they need to protect themselves," Kathy says. "Even the police will tell you they're not there to protect you; they're there to find out what happened afterwards."
Only in Seattle—where many downtown businesses were closed on the day of the tragedy—was there business as usual at gun shops following the attack. "We sold a little bit more in pepper spray and rifle ammunition, but no more than we would on a usual day," said Chris at the Central Gun Exchange in downtown Seattle. "I was kind of predicting it would be very busy. I was very surprised to see that there weren't lines around the block."
Elsewhere in the nation, guns did brisk business as well, with gun shops in Albuquerque, New Jersey, Orlando, and Austin reporting increases. K-Mart suspended gun and ammunition sales on Tuesday, but long guns and ammo were back on its shelves by Wednesday. And patriotism wasn't limited to the heat-packing variety; according to the Associated Press, Wal-Mart saw sales spike on U.S. flags, oil, food, and red, white, and blue ribbon.
Erica C. Barnett