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Americans buying more guns than ever amid coronavirus and protests

Americans buying more guns than ever amid coronavirus and protests
People in the US have turned to buying more guns than ever in year that has seen the nation devastated by coronavirus, suffer one of the worst economic blows in history, and divided by the Black Lives Matter movement.
Figures released by America's National Rifle Association (NRA) today show that 2.3 million guns were sold in the country last month.
That represents a 145 per cent increase on the same month last year. Since March, a total of 8.3 million guns have been bought, meaning 2020 could be the highest year ever for sales.
Signs point out quantity limits on certain types of ammunition after Dukes Sport Shop reopened in New Castle, Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic) (AP)
The huge spike comes amid an increase in gun violence across the country as cities reopen during the pandemic and mass anti-police brutality protests have led to law enforcement reforms and budget cuts.
In Philadelphia over the past weekend, seven people were shot in a span of three hours, according to CNN affiliate KYW-TV. One person was killed and two others critically wounded.
Shooting incidents in Philadelphia are up 57 per cent from last year, the station reported, citing police records. Homicides, at 201 as of Monday, were up 24 per cent.
An attendee passes by a large banner advertising a handgun during the National Rifle Association convention. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, File) (AP)
In Milwaukee, homicides have jumped 95 per cent to 82 deaths so far this year, according to police.
In the first week of June alone, the Los Angeles Police Department reported that homicides increased 250 per cent compared to the previous week.
Meanwhile, New York City has seen a 44 per cent spike in shootings to 511, from 355 during the same period in 2019, according to the NYPD. There have been 176 murders, which is 23 per cent higher than last year.
More than two million guns were sold across the United States in June, 2020. (AP)
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the NYPD was dispatching hundreds more officers in cars and on foot onto the streets to deal with gun violence.
"We're not going back to the bad old days when there was so much violence in the city, nor are we going back to the bad old days where policing was done the wrong way and, in too many cases, police and community could never connect and find that mutual respect," de Blasio told reporters last week.
Police blame the surge in gun violence on a combination of the early release of people from jail during the pandemic, the effects of a new state's bail reform law, and other factors.
Since March, a total of 8.3 million guns have been bought, meaning 2020 could be the highest year ever for sales. (AP)
"More people not in jail," NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan told CNN.
"Rikers Island (jail) in New York is empty. Between COVID-19, between bail reform, the protests caused animosity towards the police, which took us out of neighbourhoods that needed us the most."
Christopher Herrmann, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former NYPD analyst who focused on gun violence, said the week-to-week increases in New York shootings and homicides were unprecedented.
The huge spike comes amid an increase in gun violence across the country as cities reopen during the pandemic and mass anti-police brutality protests have led to law enforcement reforms and budget cuts. (AP)
He said the numbers were due to people starting to emerge after months of coronavirus stay-at-home orders plus the warmer weather, when gun violence in larger cities tends to jump up to 30 per cent.
Experts also noted the intense scrutiny of law enforcement and tensions with communities of colour since George Floyd's death.
The killing led to nationwide - and sometimes violent - protests, a wave of police reforms that included chokehold bans and a scaling back of law enforcement budgets in various cities.
Reported with CNN.