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In the first five months of the COVID-19, thousands of Californians bought new guns and changed the way they stored their firearms in a bid to counter the unrest, government crackdowns and societal disintegration they feared would be unleashed by the public health emergency, a new survey has found.

The UC Davis researchers who conducted the survey detected shifts in gun ownerships trends that they said are likely to drive an uptick in firearm-related injuries and deaths, including suicides and the consequences of accidental discharges.

By mid-July, the pandemic was cited as a factor in the purchase of an estimated 110,000 new firearms in the state, they reported.

The majority of those sales — 57% — were to people who already owned at least one gun. But the remaining 43% went to people who did not previously own a firearm.

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That figure suggests the pandemic has helped spur the creation of as many as 47,300 new gun-owning households in the state, the UC Davis team reported this month to MedRxiv, a website where researchers share their preliminary work. Many of those are homes that include children, teens and others at risk of self-injury, they added.

The California Safety and Wellbeing Survey was given to 2,870 Californians selected to serve as a representative sample of the state’s adult population. Its questions were designed to capture what they were thinking and doing in response to the pandemic and a political climate roiled by a string of police killings of Black men and women.

Their responses mirror a nationwide spike in gun sales. An earlier study by some of the same researchers found that firearm sales in the U.S. surged by 64% between March and May. The result: an additional 2.1 million firearms entered the homes of private citizens in the United States.

Science

‘Guns kill people,’ and leading doctors want to treat them like any other threat to public health

Science

‘Guns kill people,’ and leading doctors want to treat them like any other threat to public health

The doctors who lead the medical profession’s debates on how best to preserve and restore our health are done with moments of silence in the face of gun-related violence.

Those estimates are backed up by figures from the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Based on the FBI background checks required for the sale of most firearms, the trade association for the firearm industry said that nearly 5 million Americans purchased a firearm for the first time in the first seven months of 2020, accounting for 40% of all firearms sales in that period.

The UC Davis researchers, from the school’s Violence Prevention Project, found that the fears driving the surge in gun sales bespeak a nation suffering a potentially serious crisis of confidence.

When asked what concerns had factored into their purchases, 76% of recent gun buyers who cited the pandemic said they worried about lawlessness. More than half — 56% — said they were concerned about the release of prisoners as a result of coronavirus outbreaks behind bars. In addition, 49% said they were worried about the government “going too far” and 38% feared a “government collapse.”

Customers line up outside a gun store in Culver City in March in the early days of the pandemic. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

When asked how they stored their weapons and whether those habits had changed in recent months, 1.2% of gun owners said the pandemic had prompted them to keep at least one firearm loaded and at the ready — not stored securely or locked in a safe or rack.

Considering that there are just over 4 million California gun owners, that finding suggests that roughly 55,000 additional households now have a loaded firearm within reach of unauthorized users. About half of those who acknowledged such a switch lived in homes with children or teens.

Finally, the survey results painted a worrisome picture of the state and its residents. Among those surveyed, 13.3% said they knew someone who might physically hurt themselves on purpose — and 7.5% of those respondents said the person they were thinking of had suffered a pandemic-related loss.

California

A UC Davis ER doctor searches for patterns to try to stop gun violence before it happens

California

A UC Davis ER doctor searches for patterns to try to stop gun violence before it happens

In California, suicides represent almost 55% of the state’s gun-related fatalities. Some 1,629 suicides were carried out with a firearm in 2018, the most recent year for which statistics are available.

“It’s important to understand that the impacts of the pandemic have been much broader than the transmission of disease,” saidDavid Studdert, a public health expert at Stanford whose research focuses on guns and suicide.

“This increased sale of guns, the anxieties that drive it, and owners’ behavior around guns — those are among the pandemic’s many shadow effects. This study starts to identify those,” added Studdert, who was not involved with the survey.

Johns Hopkins University injury prevention expert Daniel W. Webster called the apparent creation of new gun-owning households “surprising and concerning.”

In a country where about 118 million households include a gun, the addition of another 43,000 may seem trivial. But “it’s the combination of COVID-related stress, fear, and despair along with increased gun ownership that is most concerning,” said Webster, who was not involved in the survey either.

Drawing a link between firearms and an infectious disease pandemic may seem like a stretch. But the UC Davis researchers make clear that, against the backdrop of a national emergency, each trend observed — an increase in the number of guns in circulation, the establishment of new gun-owning households and the relaxation of many households’ safe-storage practices — is likely to boost the risk of gun-related accidents, suicides and violence. Their cumulative effect could be hard to predict.

Congressionally mandated funding restrictions effectively shut down gun research for more than a decade. But the fact that firearms purchases surge in the wake of national emergencies is widely accepted.

Science

Add at least 57 to the number of gun-related deaths tied to the Sandy Hook mass shooting

Science

Add at least 57 to the number of gun-related deaths tied to the Sandy Hook mass shooting

One often-overlooked fact about mass shootings is that they have been very good for the gun business.

In the five months after the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings in Newtown, Conn., for instance, the legal purchase of firearms jumped by roughly 3 million over usual sales. Gun sales routinely rise after mass shootings, and after elections in which gun-rights candidates have been beaten by politicians who favor tighter strictures on guns.

The impact of those additional purchases is more hotly debated.

Multiple studies have linked the density of gun-owning households in counties, states and countries to the incidence of gun-related injuries and death. People with ready access to a firearm are almost twice as likely to be killed and three times more likely to commit suicide than those without such access, according to a 2014 study in Annals of Internal Medicine.

The researchers who tallied the post-Sandy Hook sales surge also found that accidental firearm deaths to children spiked in tandem with that sales hike. The increases in those child deaths occurred in places where gun sales increased the most.

Such findings fall short of establishing a cause-and-effect relationship between gun ownership and injury risk. But they are suggestive.

A comprehensive 2018 report by the Rand Corp.'s Gun Policy in America Project said the link was “sufficiently compelling” to lead to the assumption that “gun availability does increase the risk of suicide.”

News Source: latimes.com

Tags: covid 19 pandemic coronavirus and pandemic gun owning households of gun related public health the uc davis the uc davis the pandemic

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Redfin CEO expects 'absolutely insane' demand in housing market to last into 2021

VIDEO3:4403:44People are buying vacation homes, then taking a permanent vacation: Redfin CEOPower Lunch

The CEO of real estate brokerage Redfin told CNBC on Thursday he anticipates the coronavirus pandemic-driven boom in the housing market will persist into next year.

Existing home sales increased 9.4% in September, surpassing expectations, and the median purchase price rose nearly 15% year over year, according to data released earlier Thursday by the National Association of Realtors.

"There's no way it can last forever. This level of demand is absolutely insane. I would expect it to last into 2021, at least," Glenn Kelman of Redfin said on "Power Lunch." "There are so many people now who have decided they're not going to be able to buy a home by year-end, who expect to do so going into 2021, especially as their kids shift school districts. I do think we're going to see this for some time."

The demand for housing is primarily being driven by affluent professionals who are able to work remotely, Kelman said. That has given them the option of moving out of major metropolitan areas into more distant suburbs or, he said, buying vacation homes "and then taking a permanent vacation where they're working from those homes."

Low interest rates are also motivating homebuyers, Kelman said. However, he pointed out that interest rates will not always be low.

"Part of what is fueling this boom is that the economy has just split into two and rich people are able to access capital almost for free, so, of course, they're going to use that money to buy homes," he said. "There's just another group of Americans who are still struggling, who can't access the credit because we've raised credit standards, and you have high unemployment. I just think those two trends, at some point, have to collide."

Shares of Redfin, which has a market cap of $4.5 billion, were higher by more than 1% Thursday to around $45.60 apiece. The stock has soared more than 115% in 2020.

Tight inventory of for-sale homes has helped lead to the higher purchase prices. According to the National Association of Realtors data, there was just a 2.7-month supply available at the end of September, based on the current sales pace. It represents the lowest level since 1982, when the Realtors began tracking the metric.

Kelman said he believes supply is likely to increase in November after the presidential election, when uncertainty decreases somewhat. Since the process of listing and selling a home can take months, sellers typically have a lower risk tolerance than interested buyers, he said.

"Buyers, when they see a house they love, they pounce," he said. "I think the sellers are just looking long term at the economy and still feeling some anxiety. Many of them are going to put their homes on the market in January and February."

VIDEO1:5201:52Existing home sales spike larger than expected at 9.4%Squawk on the Street

— CNBC's Diana Olick contributed to this report.

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