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.

To view the full report and findings, click here

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.


Broadcast interviews: Rutgers University–New Brunswick has broadcast-quality TV and radio studios available for remote live or taped interviews with Rutgers experts. For more information, contact Neal Buccino [email protected]


Rutgers University–New Brunswick is where Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, began more than 250 years ago. Ranked among the world’s top 60 universities, Rutgers’s flagship university is a leading public research institution and a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. It is home to internationally acclaimed faculty and has 12 degree-granting schools and a Division I Athletics program. It is the Big Ten Conference’s most diverse university. Through its community of teachers, scholars, artists, scientists, and healers, Rutgers is equipped as never before to transform lives.