Approximately one-fifth of Americans who purchased guns last year were first-time buyers, according to new preliminary data from Northeastern University and the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.

The data also showed increases in the overall number of gun buyers and the total number of gun owners in the U.S.

Of the first-time buyers recorded in 2020, half were women, a fifth were Black and a fifth were Hispanic, according to The New York Times, which reported on the new data.

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Last year's first-time buyers were less likely than usual to be male and white, the Times noted.

The newspaper did note, however, that first-time buyers accounted for approximately 20 percent of gun sales in 2019, signaling that the pandemic did not kick off the trend.

The data showed 39 percent of American households owned guns in 2020, which was up from 32 percent from 2016, according to the General Social Survey, a public opinion poll managed by a research center at the University of Chicago, cited by the Times.

The Northeastern and Harvard data also found that around 6.5 percent of American adults purchased guns in 2020, which equated to about 17 million people.

Those numbers, according to the Times, are up from 5.3 percent in 2019.

The debate surrounding firearms and gun control legislation has again become a top priority in recent weeks, following a surge in mass shootings nationwide as states began relaxing COVID-19 restrictions.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, 67 mass shootings have taken place in May of this year.

The most recent occurred early Sunday morning when a gunman opened fire in Miami, killing two people and injuring 20 others.

Last week, nine people were killed in a shooting at a rail yard in San Jose, Calif. The shooter was also reported dead.

President BidenJoe BidenMellman: Trump voters cling to 2020 tale FDA authorizes another batch of J&J vaccine Cotton warns of China collecting athletes' DNA at 2022 Olympics MORE following the incident in San Jose said he has “the solemn duty of yet again” of ordering the flag to be lowered to half-staff to honor the lives lost in the shooting, just weeks after having to do so for mass shootings in Atlanta, Colorado, South Carolina and Indianapolis.

“Enough,” he wrote in a statement.

The president called on Congress to “take immediate action and heed the call of the American people, including the vast majority of gun owners, to help end this epidemic of gun violence in America.”

The House in March passed two pieces of legislation aimed at strengthening background checks on firearm sales and transfers.

The two bills now await a vote in the Senate.