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Report: Record number of first time gun owners in California in response to COVID shutdown, concerns over violence

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(The Center Square) – About 110,000 Californians bought guns in the first half of 2020, with concerns over violent riots, released prisoners, and lack of support for law enforcement, according to several reports.

The 2020 California Safety and Wellbeing Study, conducted by researchers at the University of California and University of California Davis School of Medicine, evaluated the impact the state’s ongoing shutdown has had on mental health. When doing so, they identified “a link between safety concerns and firearms purchases.”

“In this cross-sectional, population-representative survey of 2,870 adults in California, worry about multiple types of violence for oneself increased during the pandemic,” they write; “an estimated 110,000 people acquired firearms due to the pandemic (2.4% of firearm owners in the state), including approximately 47,000 new owners.”

Those who purchased guns cited concerns over lawlessness, prisoner releases, the government going too far, government collapses and gun stores closing, the researchers found.

They surveyed 2,870 California adults age 18 and older online between July 14 and July 27. Responses were weighted to be representative of the state population of adults.

“By destroying the economy, social services, churches, and commerce, governments have laid the groundwork for more violence. Consequently, many more Americans now feel unsafe,” Ryan McMaken, editor at the Mises Wire and The Austrian, argues.

Nationally, there were more than 2.5 million new gun owners reported in the first half of 2020. Among them, 40 percent of first-time gun buyers in the first four months of 2020 were female.

“The early part of 2020 has been unlike any other year for firearm purchases– particularly by first-time buyers – as new NSSF® research reveals millions of people chose to purchase their first gun during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the firearm industry’s trade group National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) reports.

NSSF-adjusted National Criminal Instant Background Check System figures show year-over-year increases of 80 percent in March and 69 percent in April. There were more than 6.5 million NSSF-adjusted background checks in the first four months of 2020, up 48 percent from 4.4 million during the same time period in 2019.

April’s data showed a 71.3 percent increase from 2019, and an 85.3 percent increase in March, according to data published by Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting.

Retailers reported an increased number of first-time gun buyers, estimating they accounted for 40 percent of their sales. The main purchase driver among them was personal protection, followed by target shooting and hunting.

Semiautomatic handguns were the primary firearms being purchased by first-time buyers, outpacing the second-most purchased firearm, shotguns, by a 2 to 1 margin, NSSF reports. Modern sporting rifles, revolvers and traditional rifles rounded out the top five types of firearms purchased by first-time gun buyers.

Bethany Blankley
The Center Square Contributor

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