US gun sales soar amid social unrest, election fears, COVID-19 crisis

2020-10-15 15:47:53
US gun sales soar amid social unrest, election fears, COVID-19 crisis

The U.S. gun industry has experienced record sales this year, driven in part by disturbing news about the coronavirus pandemic, social unrest over police killings of Black people and a potentially contested election that many fear could spark violence.

The number of first-time gun buyers has skyrocketed this year, according to a report by Reuters, citing industry analysts, trade groups and CEO of major gun manufacturers.

Federal data shows surges in U.S. firearm sales have in recent decades been driven by events sparking fears of impending gun-control legislation, such as the election of a Democratic president or a spate of mass shootings.

Industry experts and academics who study gun ownership say such surges came largely among the gun-industry’s core base of white, male and politically conservative customers who often already owned one or multiple guns.

That market is widening this year to include a new rush of first-time buyers, including many women, minorities and politically liberal buyers who once would not have considered gun ownership, according to Reuters interviews with more than a dozen industry experts, academics and gun store owners.

The historically high sales are adding millions of weapons to a nation that already has more guns than people. The U.S. population was 328 million in 2019, but the number of guns in the country is nearly 400 million.

That dwarfed the next highest totals of 71 million in India and nearly 50 million in China - countries that both have populations four times the size of the United States.

Surging gun sales can translate to more routine gun deaths, researchers say. Harvard University professor David Hemenway said there is overwhelming evidence that buying a gun greatly increases a household’s risk of suicide, shooting accidents and violence against a domestic partner.

“It’s pretty clear that more guns is more death,” said Hemenway, director of the school’s Injury Control Research Center, which studies injury prevention.


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