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NAT’L – Did Record Gun Sales Cause A Spike In Gun Crime? Researchers Say It’s Complicated

NPR – MARCH 3, 2021 – The year of the pandemic was also the year of the gun. Shootings took off in almost every city, large and small. New York saw shootings double, and nationally, non-suicide gun deaths jumped about 25%, according to the independent Gun Violence Archive.

At the same time, gun sales were up, too. In fact, 2020 marked the best year for gun sales — ever. The rush for firearms began in the spring, with the first Coronavirus lockdowns, and continued into the summer as TV screens were filled with images of Black Lives Matter protests, pro-police counter-protests, anti-mask rallies, and even looting.

By the end of the year, at least 20 million guns were sold legally, up from about 12.4 million in 2019.

Cause and effect? Experts who study this say Not So Fast.

The year of the pandemic was also the year of the gun. Shootings took off in almost every city, large and small. New York saw shootings double, and nationally, non-suicide gun deaths jumped about 25%, according to the independent Gun Violence Archive.

At the same time, gun sales were up, too. In fact, 2020 marked the best year for gun sales — ever. The rush for firearms began in the spring, with the first Coronavirus lockdowns, and continued into the summer as TV screens were filled with images of Black Lives Matter protests, pro-police counter-protests, anti-mask rallies, and even looting.

By the end of the year, at least 20 million guns were sold legally, up from about 12.4 million in 2019.

Cause and effect? Experts who study this say Not So Fast.

The year of the pandemic was also the year of the gun. Shootings took off in almost every city, large and small. New York saw shootings double, and nationally, non-suicide gun deaths jumped about 25%, according to the independent Gun Violence Archive.

At the same time, gun sales were up, too. In fact, 2020 marked the best year for gun sales — ever. The rush for firearms began in the spring, with the first Coronavirus lockdowns, and continued into the summer as TV screens were filled with images of Black Lives Matter protests, pro-police counter-protests, anti-mask rallies, and even looting.

“All of a sudden, the number of assaults with guns spiked a lot,” says Rob Arthur, a data scientist and independent journalist. In a recent article for the Intercept, he pointed to an increase in the ratio of violent crimes that involved guns to those that didn’t.

“That suggested to me that there was some kind of substitution going on,” Arthur says. “People who were committing assaults had access to guns more in 2020 than they did before. And so they they were essentially getting upgraded to a worse crime, assaulting someone with a gun, whereas before they might have done it without a gun.”

It may be a leap, though, to assume those shooters were part of last year’s wave of gun buyers. Mandatory background checks bar felons and other disqualified people from buying guns in stores, and past research shows most guns used in crimes are not newly purchased. [full source article]

 

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