Gun sales spiked last month as fears around the coronavirus pandemic rose. A veteran ATF special agent told Cheddar that new gun owners need to make sure they know how to store and use those firearms safely.

“I understand the fear, I understand the concern. I have it myself,” he said. “But we don't want to make rash decisions that place ourselves, our neighbors and our families more at risk than actually keeping them safe. 

The FBI ran more than 3.7 million background checks last month amid the influx of firearms purchases, although the agency notes that there is not necessarily a direct correlation between the number of checks conducted and the number of sales. 

David Chipman, Senior Policy Advisor at the Giffords organization said hopelessness, anxiety and fear might cause people to try to use firearms to control some aspect of their lives as they are inundated with concerning news about COVID-19, “but there are risks to that choice.”

“They might think that they’re die-hard, ready to go, but unfortunately they’re more like Tiger King and they’re putting themselves and their family in danger,” he said, referencing the popular new Netflix series and its central figure’s love of guns. Particularly without proper gun training, Chipman worries new gun owners are putting people at risk.  Unintentional shootings makeup 1.3 percent of gun deaths and 18 percent of gun injuries. 

He suggested first-time gun owners secure unloaded firearms. “Hide it behind the cans of tuna and beef jerky that you’ve stored in the cabinet,” he said. 

“I’m much more concerned about these guns being stored safely in homes now and not unintendedly putting families at risk or the gun buyer themselves at risk,” he said. 

Chipman said he’s concerned about an increase in domestic violence cases and the possibility of a gun becoming part of that equation. Experts have warned quarantine may lead to more domestic violence incidents sprung from anxiety, loss of jobs and more time at home. 

“Now that you put a gun in the middle of a domestic violence incident, the lethality just soars,” he said.

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