Skip to main content Skip to main content

First-Time Gun Buyers Grow to Almost 5 Million

National Shooting Sports Foundation survey says 40 percent never owned a gun before.

First-Time Gun Buyers Grow to Almost 5 Million

Shutterstock image

NSSF®, the trade association for the firearm industry, updated retail survey-based estimates and concluded that nearly 5 million Americans purchased a firearm for the very first time in 2020. NSSF surveyed firearm retailers which reported that 40 percent of sales 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 FBI’s National Instant Background Check System (NICS). NSSF-adjusted NICS checks for January through July 2020 is a record 12.1 million, which is up 71.7 percent from the 7.1 million NSSF-adjusted NICS January through July 2019. This equates to nearly 5 million first-time gun owners in the first seven months of 2020.

"This is a tectonic shift in the firearm and ammunition industry marketplace and complete transformation of today’s gun-owning community," said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President of General Counsel. "These first-time buyers represent a group of people who, until now, were agnostic regarding firearm ownership. That’s rapidly changing, and these Americans are taking hold of their God-given right to keep and bear arms and protect themselves and their loved ones."

NSSF surveys 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 noted that they are seeing a 95 percent increase in firearm sales and a 139 percent increase in ammunition sales over the same period in 2019.


Several factors are contributing to the sustained surge in firearm purchases. Sales spiked in March, with a record-setting 2.3 million NICS background checks conducted for a firearm sale, the same month the coronavirus pandemic struck. During this time, police warned response times would be tested while mayors and governors emptied prisons, including violent felons. Some of those were rearrested within days for committing another violent crime. After Memorial Day, protests turned to looting, riots and destruction, which continues today in several major metropolitan areas. Politically-charged calls to defund police also continue to spur sales.


This is also an election year and firearm sales typically rise during presidential election years. However, this year, Democratic candidates Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) are calling for stringent gun control measures, including forcible confiscation, banning entire classes of firearms from lawful possession, licensing schemes and repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which would expose the firearm industry to frivolous and harassing lawsuits.

Each month since March, NSSF-adjusted NICS background checks have set a record as the strongest ever recorded for that month.

GunVote2020
NSSF graphic

#GUNVOTE 2020: Help Drive Voter Registration

NSSF is urging all industry businesses to download and display NSSF's #GUNVOTE® icon on their company websites and incorporate #GUNVOTE messages in their social media campaigns.




National Shooting Sports Foundation aims to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen's organizations and publishers nationwide.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Popular Videos

 The Inspiring Side of Skeet Reese You

The Inspiring Side of Skeet Reese You've Never Heard Before

If you're a longtime fan of professional bass fishing, it's all but impossible to not see the presence that California angler Skeet Reese has had in the sport.

Bow-to-Stern: Hobie

Bow-to-Stern: Hobie's Mirage Pro Angler 14 360 Mike Iaconelli Edition

Howie Strech highlights the amazing features of Hobie's 'Ike' signature fishing kayak, named for the famed pro bass angler. With Game & Fish's Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2021 in Orlando.

NuCanoe

NuCanoe's New-for-2021 Unlimited Fishing Kayak

A bow-to-stern look at NuCanoe's Unlimited with NuCanoe's Ray Martinez and OSG's John Deshauteurs at ICAST 2021 in Orlando.

See All Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now