Q: Given the circumstances of 2020, are you surprised that there has been a spike in first time gun owners?
A: Gun sales tend to go up during times of uncertainty but the spike in first time buys is unprecedented.
Q: How big has the swell if new gun owners been?
A: In the first half of 2020 there were 2.5 million first time buyers. That is a 4% increase in gun ownership in a very short period of time. When you consider that the gun ownership rate in America has been quite stable since 1972 this is a huge increase. Gun ownership in America: 40% of US households have guns, 30% of the US adult population have one of more guns.
Q: Are the new gun owners coming from a range of different political and socioeconomic backgrounds?
A: It looks like a lot of individuals who, just a few years ago were fighting for strict gun control are now buying their first guns. Gun sales in more Democrat or liberal states is far outpacing sales in more Republican or conservative states. In recent months, Vermont had a record high for background checks and Delaware (the state with the lowest gun ownership rate in the US) had a record high for gun sales. From February to March 2020 using data from ammo.com, ammunition purchases in states that voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 were nearly double that of states that voted for Republican Donald Trump.
Q: Why are they purchasing and what are they generally purchasing?
A: People who just 6 months ago were shouting for bigger government and tougher gun laws and changing their position. The push to defend police at a time of unrest and violence in liberal cities has many Americans for the first time considering personal safety and security as an individual responsibility. Looking at NSSF (National Shooting Sports Foundation) data, handgun sales out paced shotguns by 2 to 1. MSR (modern sporting rifles) were number 3, followed by traditional rifles. The average purchase amount was $594.00. This tells me that most are buying a modestly priced handgun, a holster and a small amount of ammunition. It is very encouraging that most first time buyers have either taken training courses prior to purchase or are inquiring about training at the time of the sale.
Q: Are you seeing people who would not normally have supported gun ownership change their point of view?
A: It may be too early to tell. What we are seeing is many anti gun individuals are simply going silent on the topic. The data shows the surge in first time gun buyers is coming from more left leaning states. These buyers are also taking training classes. They are not just panic buying. They are doing research, learning from experts and making informed decisions. It appears that tolerance for violent urban protests and the push to defend police will most likely change the gun debate.
Q: Will the surge of new gun owners likely have any impact on politics down the road?
A: If polling data shows that more liberal voters are exercising their second amendment rights, It could change the talking points. It will be interesting to see if candidates take strong anti gun positions. If they do, the election results will tell us where America’s sit on the gun rights and restrictions debate.
Q: It used to be that the 2A wasn’t such a divisive issue… When did things begin to change and why? Could we see a more middle ground of support across the board?
A: The origins of the recent 2A battle can be traced back to the NRA “Revolt in Cincinnati” in 1977. At the NRA national meeting the leadership whose focus was on hunting and sport shooting was voted out and new leadership took over. Their new mission, to protect the 2nd amendment. As the NRA started to lobby and push for gun rights, politicians and liberal leaning news outlets took a stronger gun control position. This pushed the 2A debate to center stage. Flash forward to 2020: When citizens see images of social breakdown and violence on television or out their windows, it changes them. Those who have supported strict gun control or confiscation have argued that only the government can provide safety and security. That argument appears to have collapsed. At a time when violence is surging we see the government backing away. Many politicians appear to be politically afraid of taking on the core issues facing urban communities. Instead they are blaming the police. At a time of rising crime and violence the groups tasked with safety and security are being defunded. Many liberal anti gun Americans are changing their view. The surge in gun sales in our most liberal states supports this.