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New research seeks to document instances across the U.S. where people demonstrated with firearms. A sizable share of the gatherings took place at government sites.
There have been at least 560 armed demonstrations across the U.S. since the start of 2020, with around 1-in-6 taking place at government facilities, according to new research.
Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates for stricter firearms laws to help reduce gun violence, and the nonprofit Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, which tracks and analyzes data related to political violence and protests, released the report, which they described as first-of-its-kind.
The armed demonstrations that the report documents took place in 44 states and Washington, D.C. between January 2020 and June 2021. States with the most armed protests, according to the report, included: Oregon (55), Texas (38), Washington (36), Pennsylvania (31), Kentucky (29), and Michigan (29).
About 97% occurred in public places and 18% at government facilities, the researchers found.
"Of particular note are the more than 100 armed demonstrations that took place on the grounds of legislative buildings or vote counting facilities, as all of these events occurred in states that permit the carrying of firearms on statehouse grounds," the report says.
The report also says that armed demonstrations are more likely to be dangerous, turning violent or destructive nearly 16% of the time, as opposed to less than 3% of the time for unarmed demonstrations.
“Over the past year we have seen the proliferation of violence at demonstrations across the country,” Justin Wagner, director of investigations at Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement.
Armed protests began ramping up in April last year, with people at that time lashing out against public health restrictions officials had put in place in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
But, in general, the past year and a half was heavy with public protests, as people demonstrated over not just pandemic restrictions, but also police conduct and racism, and the 2020 presidential election.
The election protests included the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Trump, after he lost in his bid for reelection. States, meanwhile, have grappled in the past year with how to handle safety and security as heavily armed protestors appeared inside and around capitol buildings.
Among the other findings in the report was that 84% of the named groups involved in armed demonstrations are "right-wing actors," including the Boogaloo Boys and their affiliates, the Three Percenters and associated groups, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.
The groups that released the report said that the dataset it is based on will be updated regularly.
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