Study: 100,000 Californians Bought Guns Since COVID Outbreak

(Photo: NSSF)

At least 100,000 Californians bought firearms since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in March, says a new study (see below) published by the University of California, Davis.  

Researchers claim that as many as 110,000 residents bought guns in direct response to COVID-19, approximately 47,000 of which were first-time gun buyers.  

Civil unrest, economic uncertainty, and the release of inmates from prison in response to the pandemic were all reasons given by buyers for exercising their right to keep and bear arms.

The spike in gun sales in California mirrors the national trend.  According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearms industry trade association, adjusted National Instant Background Check System (NICS) checks for Jan. 2020 through July 2020 was a record 12.1 million!  

NSSF estimates that 40% of that 12 million, or 5 million people, were first-time gun buyers based on survey data taken from retailers and gun shops.  

Alan Gottlieb, the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, was not surprised by the uptick in sales in The Golden State.  

“This is no surprise. California is no different from other states,” he told GunsAmerica via email. “With Democrat politicians calling for gun bans and defunding police along with riots, looting, arson and supply chain worries due to COVID people want to be prepared.”

While Gottlieb’s comments no doubt reflect the prevailing opinions of many within the gun community, those outside the gun community viewed the data in a different light; mainly, as a bellwether for an increase in gun-related accidents.  

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“We want to be proactive,” said the lead author of the study Dr. Nicole Kravitz-Wirtz in an interview with the Guardian. “We’ve seen prior spikes in gun sales following mass shootings and then upticks in firearm-related death and injuries. We know enough from previous studies and evidence to know that we should uplift things like safe storage.”

Dr. Kravitz-Wirtz hopes that the report will serve as a “mobilization for firearm injury prevention efforts.”  

In response to the report, UCLA trauma surgeon Dr. Rochelle Dicker told the Guardian, “I’m concerned like I’ve never been before. Americans have a culture of turning to firearms for protection, and now like never before, people are fearing for their own safety and financial security. We’re seeing that manifested in California.”

New gun owners should not dismiss those safety concerns voiced by academics and medical professionals but at the same time, they should also recognize that the very best place to turn to, to learn proper gun safety practices is the gun community itself — not organizations that seek to restrict one’s 2A rights while reinforcing the notion that gun ownership is an abject danger to the individual

Practicing responsible gun ownership DOES make one’s self and one’s family safer, especially during uncertain times.  But becoming a responsible gun owner doesn’t happen without effort, as all experienced gun owners know. 

New gun owners should recognize that buying a firearm is just the first step in a lifelong journey. And long-time gun owners should welcome these newbies with open arms and be a trusted resource to help them along the way.

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About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Andrew Ling January 29, 2021, 7:43 am

    For most of us NRA, GAO, etc. pro-gun society members, it’s about the 2nd Amendment and promotion of
    American business, for the most part. Not so much for the purpose of self-protection from thugs or criminals. With made-in USA becoming so scarce and old-timers having to sell their possessions to make ends meet in this pandemic, we the people must help each other. Advise to 1st-time gun buyers; Please learn to handle your firearms properly from a trained instructor(such and an NRA certified instructor) for your own safety. Owning any firearm is a serious business.

  • Brian Hillis October 25, 2020, 5:24 pm

    Look at Bidens website. He will use information from big tech to identify “potential” gun violence. That sounds like ife you go to gun websites, browse dealers, subscibe to field and stream, purchase guns or ammo with a credit card, or make a progun comment you will be on the list. Scary is not the word for it. They can look back in time so if you start staying “clean” now they could look back years to find info.

  • JB October 25, 2020, 2:49 pm

    My two cents.

    Traditionally civilian gun owners were sportsman, hunters, plinkers, and the like. When CCW carry became legal these were the first to take advantage of the new laws, then their spouses, and friends. It was a close nit group with the trained and experienced mentoring the others. They went to the range together, trained together, talked about guns together.

    I dont see this being the case with these new class of gun buyers. They are not hunters, have never touched or fired a gun before, and are unlikely to pay for even basic firearms safety training, They may have bought a 50 rnd box of ball ammo with their firearm and both are still in their boxes on a high shelf in their bedroom closet. I submit once society returns to normal, the Chinese Flu burns itself out and the Police get serious about arresting the pajama boy marxists these gun buyers will likely forget about their guns, or sell them. Some might even be stolen. But in the long term these gun buyers wont enter into a long term shooting or hunting hobby and contribute to the Second Amendment rights movement.

  • Mark N. October 25, 2020, 1:01 am

    1,100,000 would have been something to write home about. Yeah, I was one of those who purchased, but it had noting to do with Covid, but instead a new rifle that finally became available. And only 4.6 million gun owners out of 35 million residents? That is a paltry number indeed. I used to hear estimates of up around 10 million, but perhaps this low number suggests why we keep getting hammered with multiple new antigun laws every legislative session.

    • Andrew Ling January 29, 2021, 7:35 am

      Do you mean 350 million residents?

  • sfvshooter October 23, 2020, 1:04 pm

    I work in finance and one of my colleagues purchased a shotgun and a pistol early this year. I was going to take him out shooting right before the shutdown occurred. Another colleague wanted to buy a pistol and asked what he needed to do in order to purchase one. They both have families.

    Everyone, even Californians, wants to protect their loved ones.

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