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Dr. Wintemute of the University of California said he recently tried to find out. He analyzed the data from the federal background review from January 2018 to the first few months of the pandemic. His research showed that states where gun sales had risen the most were more violent – but that many factors played a role, including bans and job losses, and that it wasn’t clear that gun sales in particular were the driver.
Still, he said, the surge in buying was worrying as the number of murders rose by a quarter in the past year, according to the FBI. The leap has continued this year, increasing by around 18 percent in a sample of 37 cities in the first three months compared to the same period last year. Historically, however, the rate is still far below that of the 1990s.
“We’ve just turned the corner in a really terrible area,” he said.
The number of murders in Los Angeles rose 36 percent last year, and the city is not seeing any decline in gun violence. By mid-May, the number of victims of shootings rose 68 percent, while the number of reported shots rose 56 percent.
Los Angeles police chief Michel Moore said more than 3,000 firearms had been seized by the end of April. He said Los Angeles officials salvage an average of 25 guns a day and that gun arrests have increased 60 percent this year.
“The number of guns out there is just amazing,” said Chief Moore.
The most recent mass shooting killed two people and injured at least 20 people in a shooting outside a banquet hall in Hialeah, Florida early Sunday, officials said. According to police, three people arrived in a white Nissan Pathfinder, left the vehicle and started shooting at a crowd outside the hall.
Gun control advocates argue that more guns in circulation mean more Americans are dying from guns, and that tighter regulations and gun buybacks would save lives. Gun rights advocates say restrictions hamper law-abiding citizens and advocate more policing instead. Many Americans have expressed their hopelessness that the country will ever get a grip on violence.
“There’s this fatalism,” said Dr. Mark Rosenberg, an epidemiologist who helped set up the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We’re so stuck,” he said, describing the thinking. “We have so many weapons.”