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Americans Bought 60 Million Guns During COVID-19 Pandemic

One-fifth of U.S. households purchased guns during the pandemic, a national arming that exposed more than 15 million Americans to firearms in the home for the first time. Americans bought nearly 60 million guns between 2020 and 2022, says The Trace. Gun sales are running at roughly twice the level of 15 or 20 years ago. All the new weapons may be fueling a historic surge in gun deaths, which reached record highs during the same period, reports The Hill. “It’s a totally different type of gun ownership now,” said John Roman of the University of Chicago's NORC. “It’s not a rifle stored away somewhere that you take out twice a year to go hunting. It’s a handgun, probably a semiautomatic handgun, that you keep in your bedside table or in your glove compartment, or that you maybe carry around with you.”

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a run on gun shops, part of a larger national spasm of panic-buying that gripped the country at a moment when many people thought society might collapse. “There was fear, and real concern, about what happens to the country during a global pandemic,” said Nick Suplina of Everytown for Gun Safety. The National Rifle Association fanned fear, Suplina said, by tweeting a video of a woman holding a rifle and pushing firearms as a pandemic safety measure. “You might be stockpiling up on food right now to get through this current crisis,” the woman says. “But if you aren’t preparing to defend your property when everything goes wrong, you’re really just stockpiling for somebody else.” Between March 2020 and March 2022, 18 percent of households bought guns, according to a NORC survey. Pandemic gun sales raised the share of Americans living in armed homes to 46 percent, up from 32 percent in 2010. “Five percent of Americans said they bought a gun for the first time during the pandemic, which is a huge number,” Roman said. “Those buyers were younger, they were more likely to be renters, they were more likely to be women, they were more likely to be people of color.” The U.S. is setting a record pace for mass killings in 2023. The carnage has taken 88 lives in 17 mass killings over 111 days. Each time, the killers wielded firearms. Only 2009 was marked by as many such such shootings in the same period of time.

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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