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“And the next thing you know, the irrational thinkers will be talking about getting rid of scarves. A long scarf can make a good mask. Hmm. What’s next after that?” one woman wrote on the police listserv in response to the ski mask discussion.

Employees of City Gear, a Georgia Avenue sports apparel store, highlighted the necessity for a ski mask in cold weather.

“I started wearing them for football,” said Michael Carr, 22. “The police wear them, too. People are just trying to make a big deal out of anything.”

Athletic shoes, knit caps, and running shoes all lined the walls of the Brightwood neighborhood store — but no ski masks, he pointed out.

Robberies are “happening every day,” Mr. Carr said. “You really think you’re going to be able to stop that?”