State Watch

Gun sales up 66 percent in California during pandemic: nonprofit


Gun purchases in California skyrocketed since March 2020 — a 66 percent increase from the previous 14 months, according to a report from, a journalism nonprofit. 

California residents purchased approximately 920,000 handguns between March 2020 and April 2021, according to estimates from the organization, The Sacramento Bee reported.

Gun sales have been on the rise in California for years, according to the Sacramento Bee, which can mainly attributed to an increase in long gun purchases following mass shootings or before new gun control measures have gone into effect.

During the pandemic, however, handgun sales outpaced that of long guns, the Sacramento Bee noted.

An additional 365,000 handguns were sold during the pandemic lockdowns compared to the previous 14 months, according to the newspaper, while long gun sales only increased by 183,000 over the same time frame.

Of California’s 12 highest months for handgun sales since 2000, eight were during the pandemic, the newspaper reported.

The easing of coronavirus restrictions in California, however, has shepherded a decrease in the surge of handguns.

About 48,500 handguns were sold in California in April, which was a drop from the 65,100 sold in April 2020, according to the Sacramento Bee.

In April 2019, Californians purchased around 41,200 handguns.

Seventy percent of people who purchased a gun during the pandemic said they did so due to concerns about crime, according to a February survey conducted by researchers at Harvard University and Northeastern University.

Additionally, about one-fifth of Americans who bought guns last year were first-time buyers, according to preliminary data from Northeastern University and the Harvard Injury Control Research Center reported by The New York Times last week.

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


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