Conflict is on America’s streets in 2020, and “tactical apparel” has become a lifestyle industry serving militarized law-enforcement agents and the freelance gunmen who emulate them. Less than two weeks before Election Day, orders are rolling in.
Since last year, online purchases have driven a 20-fold jump in sales of goods like the $220 CM-6M gas mask — resistant to bean-bag rounds — for Mira Safety of Austin, Texas.
“It doesn’t matter who gets elected,” founder Roman Zrazhevskiy said of his new customers. “They think that no matter who wins, Biden or Trump, there are going to be people who are upset about the result.”
Not long ago — perhaps a generation — dressing like you’re going to war was for the veteran who never quite made it back from Vietnam or the angry young men who obsessed over gas masks and combat boots at the military surplus store. (Every American town seemed to have one, and only one.) A shift became apparent with this spring’s Black Lives Matter protests and bitterly resented pandemic lockdowns. Now the gear is everywhere, from camouflage-clad antifa supporters to right-wing extremists who appeared at Michigan’s capitol even after men were arrested in a plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer.