Study: Coronavirus Driving Sales of First-Time Gun Owners in California

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Study: Coronavirus Driving Sales of First-Time Gun Owners in California

People are concerned about recent civil unrest as well.

An estimated 110,000 Californians have purchased a gun in direct response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new study conducted by researchers at University of California, Davis.

Of those who bought the firearms, 47,000 people were found to have never owned a gun before—meaning roughly half of all gun sales during the pandemic went to first-time owners.

A separate report by the National Shooting Sports Foundation revealed that about 40 percent of gun sales in the first four months of the year were made by first-time buyers. That figure represents a 16 percent increase compared to what was usually seen over the past two decades.

Nationwide, 2.1 million guns were bought during the first three months of the pandemic.

Bay Area news stations have reported that many gun stores in the region are running out of inventory, making it more difficult to meet the rising demand for firearms.

Some factors behind the rise in gun sales might be related to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who might seek to come after assault-styled weapons if he wins the election. Other individuals are entering the gun market for the first time due to fears of growing lawlessness and that civil society is breaking down.

“I’m a single mom through this pandemic, so I’m arming myself,” Lhiza Bascones, a first-time gun owner, told local TV station KPIX.

She added that she owns two hair salons that were vandalized during civil unrest a few months ago.

For Carlsbad, California, resident Perry Crowe, he has never owned a gun and has no plans to in the near future.

“I don’t believe violence is ever a lasting solution, and even owning a gun for personal protection seems to only increase your likelihood of being a victim of gun violence,” he told The National Interest. “I put my faith in the institutions our government have in place to protect me from those who would do me harm.”

Longtime San Francisco resident Edward Park, who now calls Seattle home, noted that “owning a gun and the vigilance around it would mean that suddenly I would have to dedicate a portion of my life ideating about violence and practicing and preparing to kill another person that does not yet exist.”

He added: “While for some people this might be empowering, for someone of my personality, it seems to me the constant vigilance against armed violence is exactly the sort of lifestyle that people escape El Salvador and Afghanistan and come to the U.S. for.”

The UC Davis study is based on findings from the 2020 California Safety and Wellbeing Survey that looked at people’s motives for getting a firearm. Nearly one in four respondents said they or someone in their household owned a gun. Roughly 7 percent of gun owners who store firearms loaded and not locked up began doing so in response to the pandemic.

“Violence is a significant public health problem that touches the lives of far more people than is typically recognized,” the report said. “The coronavirus pandemic and efforts to lessen its spread have compounded this burden.”

New gun owners in California are required to pass a written safety test, but there is no state-mandated training program to teach them how to fire their weapons.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Image: Reuters