Huge surge of gun owners set to protect US industry
The recent US gun-buying surge that began with the COVID-19 pandemic alarm and has continued through the civil unrest and riots following the death of George Floyd has created millions of new gun owners who will now keenly protect their right to protect themselves and their family, so says the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) predicts.
“Look at all of the new people who suddenly decided to exercise their Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. “We’ve witnessed something that is nothing short of a sea change, and in some cases might approach the level of epiphany, about gun ownership. We’ve heard anecdotal reports from all over the country about people flocking to gun shops who had never before owned a firearm. Now that they are gun owners, we expect them to be very protective of their rights.”
March, April and May saw record numbers of background checks, according to FBI data and information from industry sources.
“We welcome all of these new gun owners to the firearms community,” continued Alan. “We know many of them are minorities, especially Black and female citizens from literally all age groups, and they will find gun owners have a big tent with lots of room for newcomers. “They can take advantage of training opportunities, meet new friends who share more interests than they might have suspected, and gain a new understanding of our efforts to protect the one fundamental right that actually protects all of the other rights.
“We’re not surprised to hear about new first-time gun buyers who have discovered how much enjoyment they get out of shooting,” he added. “We’ve seen this with generations of new gun owners who may never have had any previous experience with firearms. Many of them discover a sense of empowerment that allows them, maybe for the first time, to understand they can take care of themselves, and that they are responsible for their own safety.
“This new wave of gun owners could become a formidable force during this year’s election,” Gottlieb noted. “From now on, we expect millions of new gun owners to pay closer attention to candidates, and reject those who would trample on their Second Amendment rights. With legions of new gun owners ready to protect these newly-discovered rights, it could be a pretty scrappy election year with lots of surprises.”
Jim Curcuruto, NSSF Director of Research and Market Development, has also recognised that the Covid-19 pandemic has introduced millions of new customers to gun ownership.
“The early part of 2020 has been unlike any other year for firearm purchases—particularly by first-time buyers—as new NSSF research reveals millions of people chose to purchase their first gun during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Jim.
January 2020 started out with a strong SHOT Show, followed by buzz surrounding background check figures on firearms with NSSF-adjusted NICS data showing year-over-year increases of 19 percent in January and 17 percent in February.
Mid-March brought the COVID-19 pandemic to the front of every news cycle, and firearm sales during this time were a lead story.
“Thanks in large part to the work done by NSSF’s legislative team, the firearms industry was deemed essential in most states, and firearm retailers were allowed to stay open to conduct business,” continued Jim.
And conduct business they did, with NSSF-adjusted NICS figures showing year-over-year increases of 80 percent in March and 69 percent in April 2020. These strong increases led to more than 6.5 million NSSF-adjusted background checks in the first four months of 2020, up 48 percent from 4.4 million during the same period in 2019.
Great news for retailers
Not surprisingly, retailers reported an increased number of first-time gun buyers, estimating that 40 percent of their sales were to this group. This is an increase of 67 percent over the annual average of 24-percent first-time gun buyers that retailers have reported in the past. Semiautomatic handguns were the primary firearm being purchased by first-time buyers, outpacing the second-most purchased firearm, shotguns, by a 2 to 1 margin. Modern sporting rifles, revolvers and traditional rifles rounded out the top five types of firearms purchased by first-time gun buyers.
Retailers noted that these new customers were spending $595 on an average sale and that 40 percent of first-time gun buyers in the first four months of 2020 were female. The main purchase driver among the group was personal protection, followed by target shooting and hunting. Also, of note was that 25 percent of first-time buyers had already taken some form of firearms safety course and 63 percent inquired about taking a firearms safety course in the near future.
“All this equates to more than 2.5 million new gun owners in a very short period of time,” said Jim. “Past NSSF research has shown that in order to keep these new owners active and avoid them becoming lapsed participants, they will need information on topics such as how to safely own, operate and secure their new purchase. Additionally, these new gun owners will need an invitation to go to the range or to the field to learn about firearm safety, personal protection and the recreational side of gun ownership, so be sure to add a +ONESM and invite some of these first-time gun owners with you as the nice weather returns and social distancing requirements are relaxed.”