News ID: 313498
Published: 0236 GMT May 30, 2021

Gun buying spiked during pandemic in US: NYT

Gun buying spiked during pandemic in US: NYT

As gun sales in the United States continued climbing amid the COVID-19 pandemic and protests, about a fifth of all Americans who bought guns last year were first-time gun owners, and they were less likely than usual to be male and white, US media said Sunday.

The New York Times quoted research data from Northeastern University and the Harvard Injury Control Research Center as saying that 39 percent of American households own guns, and of the new owners, half were women, a fifth were Black and a fifth were Hispanic.

The ratio of households owning guns is up from 32 percent in 2016, the Times said, quoting the General Social Survey, a public opinion poll conducted by a research center at the University of Chicago, Xinhua wrote.

"While gun sales have been climbing for decades – they often spike in election years and after high-profile crimes – Americans have been on an unusual, prolonged buying spree fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, the protests last summer and the fears they both stoked," said the Times.

In March last year, the report added, federal background checks, a rough proxy for purchases, topped one million in a week for the first time since the government began tracking them in 1998.

And the buying continued, through the protests in the summer and the election in the fall, until a week this spring broke the record with 1.2 million background checks, it said.

"There was a surge in purchasing unlike anything we've ever seen," Garen Wintemute, a gun researcher at the University of California, Davis, said. "Usually it slows down. But this just kept going."

With the pandemic accelerating the trend of rising gun sales, the pace has continued this year. Americans bought more than 2.3 million guns in January, the highest since last July, and overall in the first quarter, sales jumped 18 percent, compared to the first quarter of 2020, said The Trace, a news outlet that tracks gun sales.

"Americans are in an arms race with themselves," said Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who represents South Los Angeles, where the surge in gun violence has been particularly sharp, on the City Council. "There was just as much a run on guns as on toilet paper in the beginning of the pandemic."


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