CASTRO VALLEY (KPIX 5) — A new UC Davis study indicates gun sales have spiked in California since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and many people buying firearms are first-time gun owners.

Gun stores say they have almost no handguns in stock and inventory on other types of firearms is low. It’s something that is playing out at stores across the Bay Area as sales are surging.

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“I’m a single mom through this pandemic, so I’m arming myself,” said Lhiza Bascones, a customer KPIX 5 spoke with at Elite Armory in Castro Valley as she was buying her first handgun.

Bascones said she owns two hair salons — one in Montclair, the other in Oakland. During the protests a few months ago, the windows at the Oakland shop were smashed. She said that’s part of the reason she’s buying her first gun: she wants to be able to protect her family and her business.

“I waited for it for a month and a half and paid a little bit more, but I had to,” said Bascones.

Many gun stores say inventory shortages are common not only in the Bay Area, but across the country.

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“All the gun shops shelves are empty. They’ve pretty much sold out of everything they have, and that means anything – revolvers, semi-automatics, whatever it was, rifles, shot guns, they’re selling them out,” said Larry Hamby, who owns Security Six in Hayward.

According to a new study just released by UC Davis, there has been a surge in gun sales in California since the start of the pandemic.

The study estimates 110,000 people across the state bought guns because they felt there was increase in violence due to the pandemic and that the violence was a direct threat to themselves or their families.

Of those who bought guns due to concerns around COVID, 47,000 never owned a gun before. That means almost half of all gun sales during the pandemic went to first-time gun owners.

“It is a general concern for individual safety as well as the safety of the families, businesses, with sort of what’s been going on,” said Owen, who is the manager of Elite Armory in Castro Valley. He said he did not want to give his last name to KPIX 5 due to his own security concerns.

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New gun owners in California are required to pass a written safety test, but there is no state mandated training course to teach new gun owners how to fire their weapon.