What To Know Today

Pandemic first-time gun buyers are younger and more diverse. That doesn’t mean they’re more receptive to gun reform. Americans bought more than 40 million guns in 2020 and 2021, the two highest sales years on record, according to our gun sales tracker. About 5 percent of adults in America purchased a gun for the first time between March 2020 and March 2022, according to a new survey from NORC at the University of Chicago, bringing the total number of adults living in armed households to 46 percent. More diverse, younger, but with similar views: The survey found that 86 percent of first-time buyers were under 45, compared to 41 percent for pre-pandemic owners, and that 69 percent were people of color, compared to 26 percent of pre-pandemic owners. The findings expand our understanding of the pandemic gun sales surge by polling first-time buyers on their policy views. “If I had a hypothesis, it would have been that they [pandemic first-time buyers] would be this sort of unusual group that shared policy preferences with non-gun owners but they bought a gun because COVID was so unsettling,” said NORC senior fellow John Roman. “But we found that their views align really well with other gun owners even though demographically they’re so different.” In all cases, pandemic first-time buyers were as or more likely than pre-pandemic owners to support expanding concealed carry laws, allowing teachers to carry guns, shortening waiting periods before purchase, and allowing people to carry without a permit. “We don’t know whether people made the natural switch to become gun owners because they already shared those policies or whether it was buying the gun that caused them to change their policy preferences to align more with other gun owners,” said Roman, who led the survey.

NORC survey

ATF tells gun dealers that some forced-reset triggers are classified as machine guns. The bureau has determined that certain devices marketed as replacement triggers allow a semiautomatic gun to fire continuously with a single pull of the trigger. In response, the ATF notified federal firearms licensees that the devices are classified as machine guns and subject to the strict regulations on fully automatic weapons.

Watch: Machine gun conversion kits are ‘everywhere,’ feds warn. Our investigation into the rise of the auto sear, a small, cheap device that converts a semiautomatic firearm into an automatic one, is accompanied by this video report produced with VICE News. Though similar to some of the forced-reset triggers recently addressed by the ATF, auto sears allow for even more rapid fire.

Listen: Trace news writer Jennifer Mascia appeared on Tanzina Vega’s audioshow. They talked about last weekend’s spate of mass shootings, how gun violence played out during the pandemic, and its disproportionate effect on people of color. Plus, the Biden administration’s gun violence prevention policies.

Data Point

2 — the number of Los Angeles law enforcement officials who sold nearly 90 firearms without a license over several years. Federal prosecutors are reviewing possible criminal charges against a high-ranking Los Angeles Police official and a sheriff’s deputy for allegedly selling “off-roster” guns with high-capacity magazines. [The Los Angeles Times]