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Firearm purchasing and storage during the COVID-19 pandemic
  1. Vivian H Lyons1,2,
  2. Miriam J Haviland2,
  3. Deborah Azrael3,
  4. Avanti Adhia2,4,
  5. M Alex Bellenger2,
  6. Alice Ellyson2,5,
  7. Ali Rowhani-Rahbar2,6,
  8. Frederick P Rivara2,7
  1. 1Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  2. 2Firearm Injury & Policy Research Program, Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center, Seattle, Washington, USA
  3. 3Harvard Injury Control Research Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
  5. 5Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, Seattle Children's Research Institute, Seattle, Washington, USA
  6. 6Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  7. 7Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle, WA, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Vivian H Lyons, Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA; vlyons{at}


To better understand motivations behind purchase and storage of firearms during the COVID-19 pandemic, we used Amazon Mechanical Turk to conduct an online survey of individuals who did and did not purchase a firearm since 1 January 2020 in response to COVID-19. The survey was fielded between 1 and 5 May 2020. We asked about motivations for purchase, changes in storage practices and concern for themselves or others due to COVID-19. There were 1105 survey respondents. Most people who purchased a firearm did so to protect themselves from people. Among respondents who had purchased a firearm in response to COVID-19 without prior household firearm ownership, 39.7% reported at least one firearm was stored unlocked. Public health efforts to improve firearm-related safety during COVID-19 should consider increasing access to training and framing messages around the concerns motivating new firearm purchase.

  • firearm
  • descriptive epidemiology
  • public health

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  • Twitter @VivianHLyons

  • Contributors VHL, MJH, DA, AA, MAB, AE, AR-R and FPR were involved in the conceptualisation of this study, and review of survey questions. MH conducted the analysis and VHL drafted the manuscript. All authors contributed to critical revision and review of the submitted manuscript and approved the final version.

  • Funding This work was supported by funds from the State of Washington (no award number) and the FACTS (Firearm Safety Among Children & Teens) Consortium funded by the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (1R24HD087149).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval This study was deemed exempt from the Human Subjects Review Board at the University of Washington as data were de-identified.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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