More disturbing research on U.S. gun sales amid civil war fears

December 22, 2021 - 0:10

TEHRAN - The sale of firearms in the United States increased sharply during 2020-2021 compared to 2019, with a massive five million adults becoming gun owners for the first time between January 2020 and April 2021 compared to 2.4 million adults in 2019. The revelation by new research on first time gun ownership will be of major concern to a country that could not be more polarized in its modern history.

An additional five million guns on the streets of the U.S. will concern advocates of gun control, but also those warning of a possible civil war in America. For instance, Political Science Professor, Barbara Walter who serves on a CIA advisory panel called the Political Instability Task Force, in a recent opinion piece wrote “we are closer to civil war than any of us would like to believe.”

She notes that “if you were an analyst in a foreign country looking at events in America, the same way you’d look at events in Ukraine or the Ivory Coast, you would go down a checklist, assessing each of the conditions that make civil war likely. And what you would find is that the United States, a democracy founded more than two centuries ago, has entered very dangerous territory.”

Her argument is based on CIA assessments of what the agency views as other country’s civil wars saying, the U.S. has already gone through what the CIA identifies as the first two phases of insurgency. These are the “pre-insurgency” and “incipient conflict” phases and only time will tell whether the final phase, “open insurgency,” began with the insurrection of the Capitol by former President Donald Trump’s supporters on January 6.

U.S. has already gone through what the CIA identifies as the first two phases of insurgency.Events worsened so dramatically under Trump, according to Walter, who cites the Center for Systemic Peace, which the CIA’s task force relies on to predict violence and instability, cites United States as now being an “anocracy,” somewhere between a democracy and an autocratic state. She says the country no longer technically qualifies as a democracy.

Others have also reached similar conclusions. Just last month a report by The Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance said “The United States... fell victim to authoritarian tendencies itself”. This is while a new survey by the academic consortium Bright Line Watch found that 17 percent of those who identify strongly as Republicans support the use of violence to restore Trump to power, and 39 percent favor doing everything possible to prevent Democrats from governing effectively.

Walter believes the U.S. is on the verge of “open insurgency” stage of civil conflict saying that once countries cross that threshold, the CIA predicts “sustained violence as increasingly active extremists launch attacks that involve terrorism and guerrilla warfare, including assassinations and ambushes.”

Other critics would argue the United States of America since the day it was born never saw a democratic day in its history.

Nevertheless, the study on new gun sales published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and conducted by Professor Matt Miller at Northeastern University shows that around 7.5 million people, or another 2.9% of all American adults who had never owned guns before, bought firearms between January 2019 and April this year.

This is all in the open. Americans need a background check for a license to purchase guns and the numbers are still alarming. These figures do not include firearms purchased in the black market, which may number in the millions also as nobody is capable of keeping track because it practically impossible to do so.

According to the study, the total number of gun purchases rose from 13.8 million to 16.6 million between 2019 and 2020. Also, the research reveals 55% of new gun owners were white, 20.9% were Black and 20% Hispanic. Millar says “new gun owners are more likely to be Black and they’re more likely to be female”.

What also concerns researchers is not only gun sales increased during the pandemic amid fears of a civil war but also more households now have firearms, potentially exposing household members without licenses to the risk of taking guns found in the house an using them. Within that increase in ownership “there’s a disproportionate increase in exposure to guns among households”; the study says.

With more guns on the streets there has been record lethal shootings as well, the most recent notable one being the recent school shooting in Oxford, Michigan, which has drawn uncountable reactions since it occurred nearly three weeks ago. A 15-year-old boy armed with a semiautomatic handgun is accused of killing four students and injuring six others and a teacher. According to the Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s K-12 School Shooting Database, the Oxford High School incident was one of 222 school shootings in 2021, which is another all-time high. That’s over 100 more school shootings in 2021 than in 2019 or 2018, respectively the second- and third-worst years on record.

Again, school shooters usually tend to get their hands on guns from family and friends who fail to keep or store them safely and securely. Reports suggest a lot of this is true for the Oxford High School shooter. For instance, the suspect’s father allegedly purchased the handgun used in the shooting just four days prior to the incident. Schools says they are struggling to respond to the overwhelming number of shootings and shooting threats. These trends are part of an overall record rise in shootings, mass shootings and murders in 2020 and 2021, tied to record gun sales.

Ultimately more guns in more hands are making America a very insecure and unsafe place to travel to, let alone live in.

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