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News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: The Coronavirus Gun Sales Surge Is Straining the Background Check System

Good morning, Bulletin readers. A spike in gun sales has spared some American gun companies from a tanking economy, but put a strain on the background check system. Those stories and more, in your Thursday round-up. 

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

NEW from THE TRACE: Gun company stocks rebound as the coronavirus sends market tumbling. Business closures and nationwide lockdowns have dealt withering blows to the economy since the emergence of the public health threat. But after roughly two straight weeks of stock market declines, publicly traded gun companies have rebounded decisively. Champe Barton has the story.

Baltimore officials: “Put down the guns” so hospitals can treat the coronavirus. A day after a mass shooting left seven people wounded, Mayor Bernard Young decried the city’s continuing gun violence amid the pandemic. “We can not clog up our hospitals or their beds with people who are being shot senselessly because we’re going to need those beds for people who might be infected with the coronavirus,” he said.

The coronavirus sales surge is straining the gun background check system. According to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which administers checks in that state, the average wait time for a screening has gone from between five and eight minutes to two days. It’s a similar story in Pennsylvania, where stores are reporting unprecedented delays. The FBI, which conducts the screenings for most states, told Newsweek that its National Instant Criminal Background Check System “remains fully operational and will continue to process requests. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry’s trade group, advised dealers to consider waiting to complete sales when background checks are delayed.

Physicians and public health researchers talk gun violence in the time of pandemic. On Twitter, Dr. Emmy Betz, an emergency physician in Colorado, led a conversation about how the coronavirus might affect the country’s gun violence epidemic. Several healthcare providers expressed concern that the recent gun-buying surge, particularly among first-time owners, could lead to more gun injuries and deaths. Others feared that the isolation that can result from shutdowns and quarantines, as well as the stress brought by economic uncertainty, could lead to an increase in gun suicides. Do you have questions about what the coronavirus crisis means for the gun issue? Please share them with us.

Detroit man convicted in targeted shooting of LGBTQ victims. The 19-year-old gunman killed two gay men and a trans woman and wounded two others during a house party last year. Prosecutors said the victims were targeted for their identities.

DATA POINT

71 percent of mass shootings (defined as five or more people shot) in 2019 occurred closest to hospitals that were not trauma centers, researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found. — JAMA Surgery