Toni Wellen: FIREARMS in the TIME of COVID-19

Hi Folks! It’s been a rough year. For those individuals who rushed in response to COVID to purchase a firearm, we wish them well in all respects. One is not certain what the intent was of purchasing a gun. However, the news regarding gunowners is grim.

People who purchased a firearm during the pandemic are 70% more likely to be suicidal than other firearm owners, according to a new study. People who were motivated to purchase firearms during COVID-19 might have been driven by anxiety and general fear of the unknown that leaves them vulnerable to suicidal ideation.

This does not guarantee an increase in suicide rates, it represents an unusually large surge in risk made more troubling by the fact that firearms purchased during COVID-19 may remain in homes beyond the pandemic and cause other critical situations.

More than 2.5 million Americans became first-time gun owners during the first four months of 2020, with an estimated two million firearms purchased alone in March 2020 when the initial surge of the coronavirus pandemic began.

Researchers found that, of those who bought a firearm during the pandemic, 70% had experienced suicidal thoughts throughout their lives, 56% had experienced suicidal thoughts during the previous year, and 25% had experienced suicidal thoughts during the previous month. By contrast, individuals who did not buy guns during the pandemic were only 56%, 24%, and 12% respectively likely to have had suicidal thoughts during those time periods.

People who purchased a firearm during the pandemic also were found to be more likely to have storage habits that made the firearms less secure, such as; storing loaded weapons without being locked when there are minor children in the house.

“The increase in firearm purchases is concerning given that suicide is three times more likely in homes with firearms, and there is a hundred-fold increase in an individual’s suicide risk immediately following the purchase of a handgun, unsafe firearm storage increases that risk.”

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