Gun ownership rates soared to record heights during the pandemic, as more than five million people became first-time owners, according to the trade organization National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). As videos of anti-Asian violence began flooding social media and cable news, gun sales to Asian Americans, though still significantly lower than those of other racial groups, rose by an estimated forty three percent, the Guardian reports. Asian Americans who experienced or witnessed increased acts of racism at the start of the pandemic were more likely to buy firearms for self-defense, says to a new study from the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University. More than half of those who purchased a gun are first-time owners.
“Racism is like a time bomb that causes stress and anxiety, which increases people’s intention to buy firearms,” said Tsu-Yin Wu, the lead researcher and director of Eastern Michigan’s Center for Health Disparities Innovation and Studies. “Not only are people carrying it on more days, they’re also carrying it more than fifty percent of the time.” At the same time, there are documented risks associated with rising household gun ownership, including higher rates of homicides and suicides. An April study from the Annals of Internal Medicine, which surveyed more than a half million Californians, found that people who live with handgun owners are shot to death at a higher rate than those who live in gun-free homes.