The history of guns in America dates back to the founding of the country, in the constitution the second amendment declares it is the right of citizens to bear arms. However, in recent years this article has received a fair degree of scrutiny as gun violence surges. Most notably in school shootings. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the country and protests have been occurring in support of black lives matter, the amount of Americans purchasing firearms has been surging.
The data that indicates a rise in the use of firearms stems from research from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or the FBI. The FBI records data that follows the amount of background checks associated with the purchase of guns. According to their July 2020 data, over 3.6 million background checks were conducted. This is a substantial jump from the recorded 2 million background checks in July of 2019 and is the third highest month of background checks on record. June of 2020 saw the all time highest record at 3.9 million checks.
Background checks were created to ensure that only individuals who are mentally stable and do not have criminal records can receive guns. Moreover, they are meant to track the purchase of weapons at both gun stores and gun shows.
There is much speculation about the reasoning behind the rise in purchase of firearms. Many experts suspect that it is closely linked to both the coronavirus pandemic and as well as the protests raging across the United States. People are feeling more vulnerable and are fearing for their safety as a consequence of the two. While many of the protests have voiced their dedication to non-violence and peace, some have seen sabotagers incite violence. Such is the case in Portland, Oregon wherein the President sent federal authorities to mitigate the conflict.
The rise in purchase of firearms tends to coincide with national tragedies. This was also experienced in 2012 in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Ironically, after the shooting the FBI reported a 39% surge in background checks. Similarly the FBI oversaw a 48% spike in firearm background checks after the 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California.
According to a spokesperson from the National Rifle Association, “Firearm sales go up in times of uncertainty because Americans know their safety is ultimately in their own hands.” The truth behind this claim is largely unsubstantiated, however, as individuals with guns in their homes are more likely to experience gun related injuries. Nonetheless, it is clear that Americans are presently feeling afraid.
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