Record sales increase American firearm ownership to an estimated 434 million guns

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NEWTOWN, CT – The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), founded in 1961, reported Monday there are an estimated 434 million firearms in private possession in the United States of America.

Firearms purchases have strongly surged in the past year, mostly because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also because of political uncertainties, like the possibility of a very liberal incoming administration.

Firearms production figures show approximately six million firearms were manufactured in the U.S. in 2019, consisting of 3.6 million pistols and revolvers, two million rifles, and 480,000 shotguns.

Imported firearms accounted for another 3.3 million firearms. Those imports included 2.3 million pistols and revolvers, 301,000 rifles and 678,000 shotguns.

The NSSF estimates that there are approximately 19.8 million sporting rifles in our country, ranging from the AR platform rifles to SKS/AK-47 styles.

Back in 2018, Breitbart published a story indicating there were more than nine million AR-platform rifles manufactured or for sale in our country during former president Barack Obama’s administration alone.

On the weapon magazine front, NSSF estimates that Americans own “approximately 71.2 million pistol magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds” and “79.2 million rifle magazines capable of holding 30 or more rounds.”

CBS News points to another report released by the NSSF indicating that without 2020 being completed, calendar-wise, 2020 has already topped the highest weapons sales year on record, which was in 2016. 

As stated before, the surge in buying weapons was primarily motivated by the Covid-19 lockdowns occurring nationwide.

Owner and manager of Adventure Outdoors in Smyrna, GA explained:

“Everybody went to the grocery stores first to stock up on food, then they went to the gun stores.”

The 2020 holiday season is expected to cause a secondary boom in gun sales this year. With that said, November and December are already the highest tallied months for weapons sales in cumulative history, based on an NSSF check of the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

“The National Shooting Sports Foundation found that 17.2 million background checks were completed this year, versus 15.7 million in 2016, the previous high-water mark for gun sales.

Firearm purchases have climbed every month since March, and more than 1.7 million background checks were conducted in October alone, a roughly 60% jump over the same period in 2019.”

Further in the CBS report, the NSSF made a key point:

“Politically-charged calls to defund police also continue to spur sales. Also, firearm sales typically climb during presidential election years.”

Adventure Outdoors owner Wallace added:

“We saw a little bit of a slowdown in April and May, but it’s been crazy every month since. It’s mostly the civil unrest and the talk on the news about defunding the police — people have decided they need to take action to protect themselves, their families and their homes.”

In a previous Law Enforcement Today article, we explained how Joe Biden has proclaimed the outright tightening of gun rules, including banning all online sales of ammunitions, gun parts, and accessories.

He also promises to ban “assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines,” that common mantra on the liberal left. Additionally, he proposes to limit individual gun sales per person and how many one person may own.

The gun industry saw a slacking of sales from 2017 to 2019 mainly because President Trump reduced concerns about gun restrictions.

A specific example of increased gun sales is evidenced by sales and profit reports from mainstream gunmaker Ruger – officially Sturm, Ruger & Co. Their sales jumped to nearly $146 million in the third quarter of 2020, up 53% from the same period of last year.

Ruger grossed $400 million in sales in just the first nine months of 2020, a $95 million increase compared to the first nine months of 2019.

Sturm Ruger CEO Christopher Killoy attributed the sales spurt to calls by some for reduced funding of law enforcement, civil unrest and “concerns about personal protection and home defense, stemming from the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Gun sales have skyrocketed among women and black Americans looking to protect their families

November 1, 2020

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Sales of firearms surged during the violent protests for racial justice, driven by a rise in first-time gun buyers, especially African Americans and women, over fears for their family’s safety during violent demonstrations.

Americans have bought nearly 17 million guns so far in 2020, more than in any other single year.

First-time buyers made about 40 percent of gun sales in the first four months of the year. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, this percentage is far higher than the annual average of 24 percent over the past twenty years. This trade association tracks gun sales and analyzes industry trends.

Lisa Mayo, the owner of Flashpoint Firearms in Comstock Park, Michigan, is located a few miles north of Grand Rapids.

Her biggest sales day occurred after rioting in downtown Grand Rapids the night after a George Floyd protest. WOOD-TV reported that rioters tagged the Grand Rapids Police Department headquarters with expletives. Peaceful protestors smashed the storefront windows, the rioters destroyed properties, and vandals torched Police cruisers. 

Her new customers “were scared” after the riots in May, according to Breitbart.

“There was a lot of single mothers that were coming in, never would have believed in their whole entire life that they would own a firearm, and they came to my store and said they need to protect themselves, but more importantly, their children.”

A “significant portion” of her customers are from the city of Grand Rapids and poor. She explains:

“They’re fearing for their lives, and their budget is around that $200-$350 price range.”

Sales to women are up 40 percent in 2020 through September compared with the same time frame last year.

The DC Project is a group of women for gun rights. It educates women about guns, helps preserve gun culture, and highlights the diversity and increasing demographic of gun owners.

Retired police officer and professional markswoman Dianna Muller is the founder of the DC Project. The instructors she works with across the country have been adding classes to their schedules to keep up with the increased demand from female first-time gun buyers. Pidgeon told CNN Business:

“Our instructors, they’re being overrun. They can’t keep up with the amount of requests.”

Kelly Pidgeon, 53, of Pennsylvania, a DC Project leader, and instructor, says women who have taken her classes this year are concerned for their safety. She said:

“They have been watching what has been going on in terms of rioting, looting, defunding police, police not being available to them, and they’re afraid. They understand they need to become their own first protector because dialing 911 does not mean anyone shows up at your doorstep.”

Mark Oliva, the foundation’s director of public affairs of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, has also seen a spike in diversity. The most significant sales increases have come from states that have stricter gun control measures in place. Olivia explains:

“There are segments of our societies that haven’t been traditional gun buyers, more liberals, more Democrats.”

Women aren’t the only demographic that has shown an increase in guys. African Americans have also been alarmed by violence. The rise in Black gun ownership is unprecedented.

Gun sales among Black Americans are up 58 percent through September. Oliva explained:

“We’ve never seen a year-over-year increase that large in African-American gun buyers. It is the largest demographic increase we’ve seen.”

Douglas Jefferson, vice president of the National African American Gun Association, an advocacy group, noted the organization saw a significant jump in membership beginning around March when the Covid-19 lockdowns began.

Jefferson’s organization, which promotes responsible gun ownership and training for Black Americans, had about 30,000 members nationwide before the pandemic. Since then, nearly 5,000 new members have joined. He explains:

“People are worried about people stealing from other people, breaking into homes. That was on top of the civil unrest that you’ve seen this summer, the demonstrations, and some of the riots that you’ve seen.”

Jefferson explained that fears of violence by White supremacists and police have also been a major concern for his members, especially following the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in April and the tragic killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks. He explained the socioeconomic climate:

“It just seems we’ve had a lot more high-profile incidents where White supremacists have caused harm to Black people. There’s a greater awareness of it and concern for it and people wanting to protect themselves and their families against it.”

New gun owner Luther Thompson, 41, of Cartersville, Georgia, says he joined NAAGA not long after purchasing his first firearm earlier this year. The divorced father of five says both pandemic-related crime and Arbery’s killing weighed heavily on his mind. These events motivated him to obtain a concealed carry license and buy his first gun.

Since then, he’s purchased four additional firearms and persuaded his ex-wife to get her handgun and license to carry a concealed firearm. Thompson said:

“I have a family to protect. You have people out here who are ignorant to the point where your life doesn’t mean anything to them. It’s getting bad out here. You have no choice but to protect yourself.”

The highest jump in sales may be from women and black people; however, it’s a trend that has become nationwide.

Jurgen Brauer, the chief economist of Small Arms Analytics, produces widely cited US gun sales estimates. The estimated number of guns sold in the US through the end of September 2020 is more than any single year in the past twenty years.

There is no hard data on how many Americans bought a gun for the first time this year. However, advocates across the political spectrum say they believe that many of the guns sold in 2020 went to new gun owners.

According to a recent survey of California residents conducted by researchers at the University of California, Davis, fears about lawlessness and government instability drove many people to purchase firearms.

Of the people who said they had bought guns this year, Nicole Kravitz-Wirtz, the lead author of the study, said:

“Two-thirds expressed worry about lawlessness, and close to half worried about prisoners being released. Half also cited worry about the ‘government going too far.'”

In the past, demand for guns in the US has typically spiked in reaction to events increasing the risk of new gun control laws, including mass shootings and the chance that a Democrat might win the White House.

This year, months of sustained demand for firearms has resulted in continuing shortages, as well as rising prices, gun owners say. It’s showing the need for supply and demand.

Chuck Rossi, one of the founders of Open Source Defense, a gun-rights group created by current and former tech workers, said:

“I don’t think there’s been anything like it in my 30 years of being involved in firearms. There’s no inventory. There are no guns to buy. There is no ammunition to buy. There continue, to this day, to be lines at the gun counters, with empty shelves.”

Gun violence prevention advocates said the sustained surge in gun sales was deeply troubling and could contribute to an increase in domestic violence, suicide, and children accidentally shooting themselves or other people with adults’ guns.

An increase in gun purchases in just the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic was associated with a nearly 8 percent increase in firearm violence in the US, according to an estimate from researchers at the University of California, Davis.

Kareem Shaya, a gun rights advocate and another founder of Open Source Defense, has organized dozens of video training sessions for first-time gun owners this year.

“The common thread is just uncertainty. A feeling of, hey, if nobody else is going to be able to take care of me, push comes to shove, I want to be able to take care of myself.”

The other fear that may be driving the rush towards gun ownership is the fear of the Biden Tax plan.

Any new tax or regulatory expense imposed on gun ownership, like some gun control measures, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is proposing worries gun businesses. Mayo, the gun owner up in Grand Rapids, explains:

“[It] would put them out of the market. I think that is very unwise because those people are probably the top people that need to protect themselves.”

Taxpayers pay “a lot of money,” so elected officials can have Secret Service protection. Mayo continues:

“Why don’t we have the right to be able to defend ourselves. Common, middle-class people don’t have enough money to pay for a bodyguard, so the next best thing is for us to be able to protect ourselves. It’s everyone’s right to own a firearm.”

Breitbart News previously reported that Biden’s proposed gun policy includes a plan to register “assault weapons” like the AR-15s under the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA). This act states that gun owners could be required to register their AR-15s with federal authorities.

Gun owners would need to submit their fingerprints and photographs, potentially submit to an FBI background check. These are in addition to paying a $200 federal tax on AR-15s they already own. The law would only require these regulations if these owners decide not to participate in any proposed federal buyback program.

Biden’s proposal could also apply the same $200 tax, and NFA registration requirements to every so-called “high-capacity” magazine a gun owner possesses if the owner doesn’t want to be apart of the buyback program.

The $200 tax on AR-15 rifles alone creates a collective $3.6 billion in new taxes on the estimated 18 million privately owned AR-15 rifles in the United States.

Biden’s proposed policy does not define how many rounds a “high-capacity” magazine contains, but past gun control legislation like the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban defined it as a capacity of over ten rounds. Biden himself has criticized the existence of “magazines that can hold multiple bullets in them.”

Swadish told Breitbart:

“Those taxes are so draconian; they would never happen in a million years. Nobody’s paying those taxes, guaranteed. Even if they put it on the retailer, just that means they’re not buying guns from retail anymore.”

The idea, if implemented, would create a grey market. Swadish said that such taxes would be unconstitutional. Swadish continues: 

“Their intent is to rile up their base and get more votes, and they know the things they’ve mentioned will never happen.”

Swadish said that President Trump is the man who will maintain our Second Amendment rights, but Democrats would try to take the guns.

Some may link the surge of firearms sales to any of the above arguments. However, it is inevitable that Americans are afraid of the current climate and are ready to protect themselves.

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