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.
“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.