Guns & America

Extended social isolation. Layoffs. A run on firearms. These are knock-on effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are also conditions that suicide experts say demand more preventative action for at-risk Americans.

Americans Stock Up On Guns Amidst Pandemic Fears

Mar 20, 2020

As people across the country stock up on supplies to prepare for weeks of social distancing, Americans are crowding into gun stores, with firearms on their shopping list next to toilet paper and canned goods.

At the Gun Room in Portland, Oregon, owner Shaun Lacasse says Oregonians are buying so many guns the Oregon State Police background check system can’t keep up.

“The whole state was slammed,” Lacasse said on Saturday.

Chris Haxel / KCUR

For years, Kansas City, Missouri, has suffered from one of the highest homicide rates among big American cities.

Researchers at Harvard University and Northeastern University found that the rate of fatal police shootings in rural parts of the country between 2015 and 2017 were about the same as in cities.

The researchers used five different classifications for rural and urban, including from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Census Bureau and one created by the statistics website FiveThirtyEight.com.

The U.S. Department of Justice has been in a years-long fight to decrease violent gun crimes. And now, it’s targeting domestic violence abusers.

Domestic abusers are generally prohibited from possessing firearms, but in many states, ensuring these offenders turn over their guns is difficult. A new investigator in the Denver, Colorado, District Attorney’s office is trying to change that by removing guns case-by-case.

The investigator spends his days listening to 911 calls, scanning social media and talking to family members, looking for signs that someone who has been charged with a domestic violence-related offense and who has a restraining order against them, has a gun.

Spending on gun policy advertisements has risen sharply in recent elections, researchers at Johns Hopkins University have concluded, amid widening political divisions within the gun debate.

Over four election cycles from 2012-2018, the study, “Guns In Political Advertising Over Four US Election Cycles,” found that ads referencing guns increased from 1% of total candidate-related advertisements, to over 8% in the 2018 cycle.

The Northeast has long been home to firearm titans, but recently the region has lost out to the South and Mountain West as more and more gun businesses follow financial and cultural incentives to relocate.

And for those firearms producers still in states with gun control measures on the table, there’s increased temptation to take their business elsewhere.

The United States passed an ominous milestone in 2018. According to data released in January by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a record 24,432 people died by firearm suicide in 2018.

That’s an increase of 578 from 2017 and the first time ever that more than 24,000 people have died by firearm suicide.

The CDC often takes more than a year to compile, analyze and release the data.

Over 60,000 people head to Las Vegas each year for a gun industry juggernaut: The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s “SHOT Show” a Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade show that is the main event for the $6 billion industry.

“This is to the firearms and ammunition world what the Detroit auto show is to the car world,” said Mark Oliva, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is leading a coalition of 21 states, including Oregon, Colorado, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut and Washington, D.C., in a federal lawsuit against the Trump Administration over newly announced arms export rules. The lawsuit, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, argues the new rules fail to meaningfully regulate 3D-printed guns.

The lawsuit is the most recent in a long string of legal twists and turns over the issue.

There’s been a massive wave of public resistance in Virginia to gun regulations proposed by the recently-elected and Democratic-dominated state legislature there.

In most American cities, gun homicides are on the decline. But Durham, North Carolina, saw its homicide rate rise in 2019. While the community copes with feelings of chronic violence, one outreach worker is dedicating his time to ending the cycle.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday declared a state of emergency and instituted a temporary ban on firearms from being carried on Capitol grounds, as the state prepares to deal with an influx of gun rights supporters attending a protest rally in Richmond next week.

We often look to the number of firearm background checks to estimate gun sales in the U.S. And new data shows that number jumped in 2019. But the real story behind those numbers is more complicated.

Every time someone buys a gun from a federally licensed firearms dealer their name is run through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

A lawsuit by families of victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School has the potential to significantly change what the world knows about how the gun industry thinks and operates. After years of delays, the lawsuit is moving forward, which may force the gun industry to make public what it considers private.

Dee Smith didn’t know De’Von Bailey. But he knows Bailey’s family, and says he was angry when he heard that the 19-year-old had been killed by Colorado Springs police this summer.

Now, standing by the memorial and the stained asphalt on the quiet corner where it happened, Smith is speechless.

“[Because] then you just imagine that it could be me, it could be my nephews, somebody else, friends that I know that’s from the neighborhood,” Smith said. “Just the fact that it’s from here. I was born and raised out here. It has a little different meaning for me.”

Firearms manufacturers had a good year in 2018, according to a new report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF.) The industry’s main trade group says that’s in part because gun owners are concerned about increased gun regulation.

American producers pumped out nearly 7,660,772 firearms and roughly 8.1 billion rounds rounds of ammunition in 2018, according to data compiled by NSSF from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

After a much-anticipated showdown over gun regulations at the U.S. Supreme Court in early December focused on procedure over substance, advocates on all sides are waiting to see if the court dismisses the case.

The city council of Aspen, Colorado, voted unanimously in late October to ban the public from openly carrying guns in government buildings.

A crowd of opponents to the measure attended the council meeting, many with guns in holsters on their hips. Over nearly two hours of public comment, opponents said designating city hall a so-called gun-free zone is dangerous. Many suggested that armed private citizens could help in an active shooter situation.

The U.S. Supreme Court will examine gun rights for the first time in nearly a decade on Monday when it hears arguments in a case that could decide whether Americans have a constitutional right to carry a firearm in public.

In the case, the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association is challenging a New York City law that severely restricted the transport of firearms outside the home.

Overall crime in the United States has been declining since the early 1990s. But the same cannot be said for gun violence, which has seen a slight uptick in recent years.

Nearly half (49%) of public schools in the United States have at least one School Resource Officer (SRO) on campus. The primary basic training course, taken in the first year on the job and provided by the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), is 40 hours and focuses on their role as law enforcement officers in a school, de-escalation tactics and some information on mentoring students.

A few weeks back, I found myself being pelted with snow, on an unnamed ridge, high above the aptly named Roaring River in central Idaho.

My eyes peeled for elk, I was trudging behind a friend with a rifle in one hand, trying not to trip on the trail-less mountainside.

How did I get here?

For more than 20 years, studying guns and health has been a challenge for the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. Entangled in the messy world of gun politics, researchers have struggled to study violent deaths. But a nationwide program that recently expanded to all 50 states is changing that.

Federal land agencies like the National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management aren’t doing enough to keep employees safe, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

That concern was heightened by armed standoffs, like the takeover of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016.

Trust Your Gut: What Selling Guns Online Is Like

Oct 14, 2019

In a parking lot in Fayetteville, Georgia, John Pander is about to head into a competitive shooting match. And he’s brought along a pistol he doesn’t shoot anymore. It’s a SIG SAUER P229.

Pander usually buys his guns new, from federally licensed dealers. He keeps them locked up in a safe at home, but sometimes the safe fills up.

“So it all comes down to space,” said Pander. “And yeah, sometimes you want to fund the next purchase.”

So when he’s got his eye on a new gun, he puts an old one up for sale.

The AR-15 has taken center stage in the American gun debate. But at its heart, the AR-15 is a rifle that has been modified to look and feel a certain way.

The emphasis on its appearance, however, has shaped how the country regulates firearms, to the frustration of many gun owners and gun control advocates alike.

The AR-15 is a semiautomatic rifle that usually shoots 5.56mm rounds. It has a detachable magazine so users can put in 5-, 10-, 30-, or even 60- and 100-round magazines.

Mass shootings may grab the headlines, but suicides are by far the leading category of gun death in America. However, most Americans don’t know this, according to a new national poll from APM Research Lab, Call To Mind and Guns & America.

Experts say this misperception is handcuffing suicide prevention efforts.

The poll asked more than 1,000 Americans what they think the leading cause of gun deaths is.

The cable loops through the gun to keep it from firing.
Raul Rubiera

In 2017, the homicide rate in Charlotte peaked to its highest number in close to two decades. That statistic and trends so far this year prompted an investigation by reporters at The Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer.

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