California gun sales up amid COVID-19 pandemic fears, study finds

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It appears a lot more people are buying guns during the coronavirus pandemic.

A new report by the researchers at the UC Davis School of Medicine says gun sales have surged during the crisis.

The San Francisco Chronicle spoke to one Northern California gun store owner who claimed sales were up 500%.

Researchers wanted to know the impact of COVID-19 on firearm purchases, including: why are people buying guns? And how are they storing them?

The study found an estimated 110,000 in the state who have bought a firearm because of the pandemic, with almost half, or 47,000, who are first-time gun owners.

55,000 gun owners say they have at least one firearm loaded, not locked up and secured as recommended by safety experts.

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So why did they get one?

Most buyers pointed to fears over "lawlessness," prison releases, the government "going too far," or the government "collapsing."

The results come from an ongoing California survey on firearm ownership and exposure to violence.

Researchers say the rise in gun ownership is concerning because studies have shown that having a gun in the home increases the risks of accidents, suicide and homicide.

This research was posted on medRxiv as a preprint and has not yet been peer-reviewed. To read the full study click here.
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