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First-Time Gun Purchases Spike in California during Pandemic

Salesman Ryan Martinez holds a handgun at the Ready Gunner gun store In Provo, Utah, June 21, 2016. (George Frey/Reuters)

Gun purchases in California have soared since the beginning of the pandemic, with 47,000 Californians buying firearms for the first time due to the global outbreak.

Overall, about 110,000 California residents bought new guns because of the pandemic, about 2.4 percent of all firearm owners in the state, according to the 2020 California Safety and Wellbeing Study. About 55,000 gun owners in the state began storing their weapons loaded and readily available this year after the outbreak reached the U.S.

Those who purchased guns and ammunition during the pandemic this year said they did so over concerns about lawlessness, prisoner releases, government overreach or collapse, and gun stores closures, according to the study from University of California, Davis researchers, released this month.

Meanwhile, concerns about violence in California have increased since the pandemic began.

“Pandemic-related loss contributed to concern that someone else might physically harm themselves on purpose,” the study stated. “Worry about violence significantly increased during the pandemic for all violence types except mass shootings.”

More than one in 10 people in a July survey of 2,870 California adults said they were worried someone they know could intentionally harm someone else or themselves. Of those who were worried about someone self-harming, 7.5 percent said it was because the individual had suffered a pandemic-related loss.

The U.S. has lost more than 220,000 Americans to the coronavirus as of Monday, out of 8.2 million cases of the virus in the country since the outbreak began, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

California’s 2.2 million residents have suffered 16,970 deaths out of 870,000 positive coronavirus cases.

Across the world, at least 40 million people have contracted the coronavirus.

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