Beverly Hills' only gun store operates discreetly, but sales are exploding as California's rich and famous are becoming increasingly worried about crime.
Beverly Hills Guns offers "private, one-on-one, concierge-style firearms services" on an appointment-only basis. The store opened in July 2020, when many were seeking an extra sense of security due to the violent riots related to civil unrest that summer.
Owner Russell Stuart told LA Magazine in an interview published Wednesday that his clients range from business owners and real estate moguls to famous actors and film executives. Most are first-time gun buyers, who were additionally spurred to purchase weapons following news of several smash-and-grab attacks and violent home invasions.
"This morning I sold six shotguns in about an hour to people that say, 'I want a home defense shotgun,' " Stuart told LA Magazine. "Everyone has a general sense of constant fear, which is very sad. We’re used to this being like Mayberry," the fictional town from "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Mayberry R.F.D."
The store does not have a sign on the door and is located inside a Beverly Hills office building. Clients may also take firearms lessons, and Stuart encourages them to visit the gun range. Some want to take extra safety precautions. One client reportedly asked Stuart about creating a "Tony Stark-level" security system with drones to hover his home. Stuart's store is part of his larger security company, Force Protective Agency, which he describes as the "Secret Service of Hollywood."
"I don’t want everyone out there just panic-buying," he told LA Magazine, adding that a gun range should be built in Beverly Hills. "We’re going to have a lot of guns out there in a lot of untrained people’s hands," he said.
The head of the Los Angeles Police Department's union warned people earlier this month to avoid traveling to the city due to crime.
"My message to anyone thinking about coming to Los Angeles, especially during the holiday season, is don’t," union head Jamie McBride told CBSLA earlier this month. "We can’t guarantee your safety. It is really, really out of control. I said it to people before, it’s like that movie 'Purge,' you know, instead of 24 hours to commit your crime, these people have 365 days to commit whatever they want."