New Study Looks at the Motivation for Firearm Purchases during the COVID-19 Pandemic

New Study Looks at the Motivation for Firearm Purchases during the COVID-19 Pandemic

By: Alexandra de Leon Date: September 17th, 2020

There has been a significant increase in national firearm purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the motivation for these purchases are fear of other people, the report concluded.

Researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center (HIPRC), UW Medicine, University of Michigan Department of Health Behavior & Health Education, and the Department of Epidemiology of the University of Washington School of Public Health have conducted one of the first studies to look at specific motivations behind firearm purchases during the pandemic. The study was published today, September 17, 2020 in Injury Prevention.

In this study 1,105 people were surveyed, all were over the age of 18 and divided into 6 different groups. The six groups were:

  • Prior owners who purchased a firearm in response to COVID-19.
  • New owners with household firearm ownership who purchased their own firearm in response to COVID-19
  • New owners without household firearm ownership
  • Prior owners who did not purchase a firearm in response to COVID-19
  • Non-owners with household firearm ownership, and
  • Non-owners without household firearm ownership.

Purchasers reported the primary reason for their new firearm purchase was for protection against people.

“Our study found that those that purchased a firearm during the pandemic were also more likely to have stocked up on other household supplies, which in turn highlights a broader pandemic purchasing patterns,” HIPRC trainee & lead researcher Vivian Lyons, PhD, MPH, says.

Among those who had purchased a firearm in response to COVID-19, 39.7% reported at least one firearm was stored unlocked. Previous evidence shows unlocked firearms can cause a greater risk for unintentional firearm injuries, suicide, and domestic homicide.

“We believe there is a need for public health efforts to focus on improving firearm-related safety, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lyons says. “There should be considerations to increase access to training, expanding mental health resources, incentives for storage and locking mechanisms and making sure to frame messages around the concerns motivating a person to purchase a new firearm.”

Researchers in this study were a part of HIPRC’s Firearm Injury & Policy Research Program. The group’s mission is to reduce the impact of firearm injury and death on people’s lives through interdisciplinary research and collaboration with institutional, community, and governmental partners.

This study was funded by the State of Washington and the Firearm Safety Among Children & Teens (FACTS) Consortium funded by the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (1R24HD087149).

For more on the study, click here.