Crime & Justice

Gun sales continue to skyrocket in US

New York, May 30 (EFE).- Gun sales in the United States, which shot up last year after the start of the coronavirus pandemic, are continuing to climb, with a fifth of the purchases being made by people who have never owned a gun before, according to preliminary figures from a study reported on Sunday by The New York Times.

The figures, gathered by Northeastern University and a Harvard research center, show that there are more and more weapons in circulation along with more and more gun owners.

The study, which has not yet been published, shows that half of the new gun owners are women, 20 percent are African Americans and another 20 percent are Hispanics, evidence of the diversification in the profile of the “average” gun owner, which to date has been a white male.

The data come from a survey of 19,000 people conducted in April and show that about 6.5 percent of the US population – some 17 million people – bought one or more firearms last year, above the 5.3 percent in 2019.

In addition, the study calculates that about 39 percent of US households have at least one firearm on the premises, above the 32 percent registered in 2016.

Gun sales shot up last year during the pandemic, with federal background checks – a rough indication of the number of gun sales – in March 2020 rising to a million a week for the first time since data of this kind began to be collected in 1998.

That record was surpassed this past spring, with background checks exceeding 1.2 million during one particular week, according to FBI figures.

Of the 10 weeks with the most background checks, six have come so far in 2021 and three others occurred in 2020.

Gun sales have been on the rise for years in the US, usually increasing strongly in election years or after shocking crimes, but the latest data currently show an unprecedented rate of sales.

In addition, since the start of the pandemic mass shootings have increased significantly in many cities around the country after diminishing for years.

Last month, President Joe Biden urged the Republican opposition to join with Democrats to restrict access to guns.

Biden said that the problem with weapons, which he called a daily bloodletting should not be a partisan issue and he urged banning sales of assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition clips, both of which are regularly used in mass shootings.

Meanwhile, just after midnight on Sunday, three gunmen with assault rifles opened fire indiscriminately at people attending a rap concert in Hialeah, Florida, in the Miami metro area, killing two and wounding about 20 in the second mass shooting in 24 hours in Florida, sparking fears of a “violent summer,” given that Memorial Day on Monday is the official start of summer in the US.

Two people died at the scene, while about a dozen of the wounded managed to get to local hospitals on their own and eight others were transported there by ambulance.

Witnesses said that the gunmen were wearing ski masks and sweatshirts with hoods.

Shortly after midnight the day before, one person died and six others were wounded by gunfire in the Miami tourist neighborhood of Wynwood, which is full of popular art galleries and restaurants.

One local police officer described the scene of the shooting as looking like a “war zone,” while a witness reported hearing about 60 shots and seeing people fleeing for their lives from the site.

On May 23, three people died in an attack on a Youngstown, Ohio, bar, while three days later a disgruntled employee gunned down nine coworkers and then killed himself as police closed in at a rail yard in San Jose, California.

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