‘Fear on top of fear’: Why anti-gun Americans joined the wave of new gun owners

‘Fear on top of fear’: Why anti-gun Americans joined the wave of new gun owners

A necklace worn Karen Williams-Adir features a handgun. The Los Angeles resident bought her first gun for protection in June 2020. All his life, Jabril Battle was anti-gun. Then came the pandemic, the lockdown, the shortages and a feeling that at any moment, things could blow. Battle bought a Beretta. Drawn to last summer’s protests against police violence, Savannah Grace found herself face-to-face with a camo-clad officer’s long gun. She’d always hated guns, but went out and got a Glock 45. In blue cities and red suburbs alike, firearms purchases soared last year — to the highest level in half a century, based on federal background checks. A striking portion of those sales went to first-time gun buyers — 40 percent, according to the firearms industry’s trade association . Other studies show first-timers accounting for more like a fifth of sales in 2020 , but that’s still unusually high, retailers said. Overall gun ownership nationwide jumped from 32 percent of Americans to 39 percent last year, according to University of Chicago survey data — well under the 50 percent level of half a century ago, but the biggest jump in recent decades. From the downtown streets left empty by the pandemic’s shutdowns to the sharp spike in homicides and the nationwide conflict over the role and behavior of police officers , a disorienting and often frightening year drove many decisions to buy guns, according to dealers and buyers alike. “It really was a perfect storm of concerns” that drove […]

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