US faces shortage of body armor and gas masks after Capitol riot

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After months of unrest, the US is facing a shortage of bulletproof vests, gas masks and ballistic helmets.

Some retailers of protective equipment have seen a fivefold increase in sales of military-grade defensive gear, the Los Angeles Times reported. The surge in demand is leading to empty shelves and waiting lists, with some stores selling out of products like decontamination wipes, which remove chemical agents like pepper spray, and body armor on the same day they offer them for sale.

Retailers said a new demand spike followed the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and a warning from the FBI of potentially violent clashes at state capitals this weekend, depleting the stock restored after a summer and fall of protest.

“Demand went up again after the Capitol [riot],” Michael Wilson, manager of Los Angeles retailer Security Pro USA, told the paper. “It just stacked on top of an already existing shortage.”

Shoppers range from “preppers” bracing for calamity and other worried civilians to state and federal lawmakers, law enforcement organizations and journalists.

The same dynamics that limited the availability of protective medical equipment early in the pandemic are disrupting supply chains for the more militaristic type as well.

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