Keeping up with the pandemic: Evictions, anger and guns

By Al Tompkins
Poynter Institute

Just consider that in the past four weeks, as Houston filled hospital intensive care units with COVID-19 patients, the county logged more than 2,200 eviction cases.
The New York Times wrote: “20 states, including Louisiana, Texas, Colorado and Wisconsin, have lifted their restrictions and researchers have tracked thousands of recent eviction filings in places where data is available. Eviction bans in nine other states and at the federal level are set to expire by the end of the month.
“All told, Amherst College anticipates that nearly 28 million households are at risk of being turned out onto the streets because of job losses tied to the pandemic.”
The Eviction Tracker System is building a database of city-by-city evictions that should become valuable once eviction moratoriums, put in place as the pandemic began to take its toll on the economy, wear off.
The federal government does not track evictions and most state governments don’t either, so you have to look county-by-county for court orders. That is time-consuming for sure.
Meanwhile … The FBI said it performed 3.9 million gun ownership background checks in June, a record. Those background checks are a sign of pending gun sales. The federal government does not track gun sales so the background check is the best indicator we have of how many guns might have been purchased.
Small Arms Analytics, a consulting firm, estimated there may have been 2.4 million gun sales, largely handguns, in June.
The firm said handgun sales likely increased 177 percent over a year ago and that rifle and shotgun sales more than doubled. Small Arms Analytics said there was a noticeable spike in gun sales the first week of June, probably linked to the death of George Floyd and the protests that followed.
The Trace explained: “All four weeks of June rank among the six busiest weeks (the National Instant Criminal Background Check System) has ever recorded. Over a million checks were conducted during the first week of the month alone.”
Checks for handguns, long guns, and multiple guns — the categories that serve as a proxy for sales — increased in every state and Washington, D.C., last month compared to June 2019. In 42 states, the number more than doubled.
A new survey from Pew might help to explain the gun sales numbers.
Pew explained the data: “Anger and fear are widespread. Majorities of Democrats and Republicans say they feel both sentiments when thinking about the country, though these feelings are more prevalent among Democrats. And just 17 percent of Americans – including 25 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and 10 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners — say they feel proud when thinking about the state of the country.
“However, nearly half of adults (46 percent) say they feel hopeful about the state of the country, although a 53 percent majority says they are not hopeful.”

Author: Stephan Drew

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