Pa. residents bought nearly 71K guns in November, data show | Monday Morning Coffee

Nationwide, Americans bought about 1.36M guns last month, according to an analysis of FBI data

By: - December 19, 2022 7:15 am

(Photo via Getty Images/Colorado Newsline.)

Pennsylvania residents bought nearly 71,000 guns in November, part of a nationwide buying spree that saw Americans purchase approximately 1.4 million guns, a new analysis of FBI data shows.

That seasonally adjusted nationwide tally of 1.36 million weapons sold includes 840,000 handguns and 520,000 long guns (rifles and shoguns), according to The Trace, which reports on guns and gun violence across the country.

Last month’s seasonally adjusted total of 70,988 gun sales in Pennsylvania was  a 1 percent increase over October’s tally of of 69,988 sales, according to the Trace’s analysis, and down slightly from sales posted in November 2021.

The November sales tally for the commonwealth included 48,595 handguns and 22,395 long guns, according to The Trace.

The online news site’s sales estimates are derived from data from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is run by the FBI. The background check system launched in November 1998.

(Source: The Trace)

The Trace’s data, which goes back 22 years to 2000, shows ebbs and flows in gun sales in the Keystone State. Statewide gun purchases spiked in June 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when 142,362 weapons were sold statewide.

That seasonally adjusted total included 109,699 handguns and 32,663 long guns, according to The Trace.

The increase in purchases in Pennsylvania was reflective of a broader, nationwide trend, which saw more Americans purchase weapons at the peak of the public health crisis, according to The Guardian. About a fifth of the buyers were first-time purchasers, the newspaper reported.

The Trace’s data shows Americans purchased nearly 22 million guns as the pandemic raged in 2020. The unadjusted data included 13.5 million handguns and 8.2 million long guns, according to The Trace.

Gun violence prevention advocates have pointed to the glut of weapons as one of the factors driving the nation’s gun violence epidemic. States with more relaxed gun control laws and higher rates of gun ownership had higher rates of mass shootings, according to a British Medical Journal study published in 2019.

“Americans are in an arms race with themselves,” Los Angeles City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson told the New York Times in May 2021. “There was just as much a run on guns as on toilet paper in the beginning of the pandemic.”

A protester holds a sign calling for action on gun violence during a meeting of the Pa. House Judiciary Committee on Monday 6/13/22 (Capital-Star photo by John L. Micek).

In Pennsylvania, measures that would have limited access to weapons and provided for stricter background checks failed to advance out of the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives during the most recent legislative session.

Lawmakers ultimately approved, and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed, money for gun violence prevention programs in the 2022-23 state budget, but the lack of broader reforms, including a so-called ‘red-flag law’ frustrated advocates.

An average of roughly 1,628 people die every year by guns in Pennsylvania, according to a report by Everytown For Gun Safety, a nonprofit working to raise awareness about gun violence across the country, the Capital-Star reported in July. This was a 15 percent increase from 2010 to 2019 and ranks Pennsylvania number 27 for the highest rate of gun violence in the country.

Roughly 62 percent — or just over 1,000 — of those deaths are suicides, while 35 percent — or over 550 — are homicides, the report concluded.

Republican lawmakers ended the year by pursuing the impeachment of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, a Democrat, charging, among other things, that his policies had further exacerbated an already deadly gun violence problem in Pennsylvania’s largest city. A trial in the state Senate is slated to begin in mid-January.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.