Today’s gun owners vary widely in their interests in firearms. Some are collectors, admiring the workmanship and artistry of a finely engraved piece that is enhanced with a beautifully grained wooden stock. Some are hunters, looking for a working tool that will aid in their quest for all kinds of wild game and birds. Yet other gun owners today are primarily folks who are concerned about protecting themselves, their family and their property from what seems to be an increasingly common act of violence from others. Truth be told, most gun owners are a mix of all three of these categories.
But quite interestingly, the most recent growth in gun ownership is from a growing number of people who are deeply concerned about the growth of violence in larger cities across the United States. I don’t want to get into politics, so suffice it to say that there is a real and increasing concern about our second amendment rights and the ability to insure our own safety from various outside negative activities.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, NSSF, is the firearms industry trade association, whose mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. NSSF was formed in 1961 and has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide. They recently released information confirming that the number of first-time gun buyers has grown to nearly 5 million in 2020! This figure was the conclusion of a survey of firearms retailers which reported that 40 percent of sales so far this year were conducted to purchasers who have never previously owned a firearm.
NSSF tracks the background checks associated with the sale of a firearm based on the FBl’s National Instant Background Check (NICS}. NSSF-adjusted NICS checks for January through July 2020 are a record 12.1 million, which is up 71.7 percent from the 7.1 million NSSF-adjusted NICS from January through July 2019. That equates to nearly 5 million first-time gun owners in the first seven months of 2020.
This is a tectonic shift in the firearms and ammunition industry marketplace and a complete transformation of today’s gun owning community. These first-time buyers represent a group of people who, until now, could care less about firearms ownership. That is rapidly changing, and these Americans are grabbing hold of their God-given right to keep and bear arms and protect themselves and their loved ones.
This same NSSF survey revealed that 58 percent of firearm purchases were among African American men and women, the largest increase of any demographic group. Women comprised 40 percent of first-time gun purchasers. Retailers also noted that they were seeing a 95 percent increase in firearms sales and a 139 percent increase in ammunition sales over the same period in 2019.
Several factors are contributing to the sustained surge in firearms sales. Purchases spiked in March, with a record-setting 2.3 million NICS background checks conducted for a firearms sale -the same month the coronavirus pandemic struck. During the same time, police warned that their response times would be stretched while mayors and governors emptied prisons, including violent felons. Some of those same prisoners were rearrested within days for committing another violent crime. After Memorial Day, protests turned to looting, riots and all kinds of destruction, which continues today in several major metropolitan areas across the country. Politically charged calls to defund the police also continue to create more gun sales.
Add to that the fact that this is an election year, and firearms sales during election years typically rise. Compounding that are the calls for more stringent gun control measures, including forcible confiscation, banning entire classes of firearms from legal possession, and the increase of frivolous lawsuits.
Yes, the times they are a changing, and more and more folks have a growing concern about their own safety and the safety of their families. Will the unrest that is occurring across some major cities in the US reach our rural communities? I certainly hope not, and I truly don’t believe it will. But in the meanwhile, the good, common sense residents of our smaller towns and villages and those scattered across our farmlands believe that a little preparation and precaution might be in order, while hope in our future still remains high.