Rutgers scholar Katherine Ognyanova is available to comment on new nationwide survey data from The COVID States Project, a joint project of Rutgers, Northeastern, Harvard and Northwestern universities. The report examined who was most likely to buy a gun in 2020 and why.
Among the findings:
- 2020 was a record-breaking year for gun purchases with significant spikes in March when the pandemic and lockdowns became widespread and in June during the peak of the Black Lives Matter protests.
- People who attended President Trump’s rallies and protests over lockdowns and the election were 3.9 times more likely to purchase firearms than those who did not.
- People who attended anti-racism or police violence protests were 1.6 times more likely to purchase guns than those who did not.
- As in past years, crime remained the biggest reason for gun buying, but nearly a third of respondents cited lockdowns, fears of the government, COVID-19 or the presidential election.
- Republicans were more than twice as likely as Democrats to buy a firearm.
- First-time gun purchases were more likely among African Americans, while white Americans bought more firearms overall.
- Existing gun owners were significantly more likely to buy firearms if they reported not wearing masks or if they had contracted COVID-19.
- Among those who did notalready own a gun, people with a household income of more than $200,000 per year were 2.1 times as likely to buy a firearm as those making under $15,000.
Katherine Ognyanova, an assistant professor at Rutgers’ School of Communication and Information, conducts research in network science, computational social science, social technology, and media, civic and political communication.
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