Nearly Five Million New Gun Owners in 2020

August 25, 2020
David Workman

With all the bad news of 2020 – COVID, violent riots, defunding of police agencies, etc. – some good news emerged as the NSSF reported an increase of nearly five million first-time gun owners in 2020. This record jolt in sales is the most background checks run in a single year since the system started in 1998.

NSSF tracks the background checks associated with the sale of a firearm based on the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System (NICS).

“This is a tectonic shift in the firearm and ammunition industry marketplace and complete transformation of today’s gun-owning

More gun owners is a good thing, but remember there needs to be more training happening.

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.”

The NSSF broke the numbers down into specific demographics, too. For example, 58 percent of firearm purchases were made by African American men and women, the largest jump of any demographic group. Women in general made up almost 40 percent of all first-time purchasers. Surveyed retailers said they are saw a 95 percent increase in firearm sales and a 139 percent increase in ammunition sales over the same period in 2019.

First time buyers weren’t the only ones purchasing firearms in 2020. Repeat gun owners added to their arsenals we well, with the total new and returning firearm background checks topping 3.63 million in July alone, surpassing the old monthly record of 3.74 million in March. For the year, the NICS has completed over 17 million background checks compared to just over 11 million over the same period in 2019.

At a time when civil unrest is spreading from the volatile inner cities to the usually peaceful suburbs, more citizens are exercising their 2nd Amendment rights to defend themselves and their families. With no end in sight to the civil unrest or the uncertainty about law enforcement funding, these numbers are likely to continue to rise for the remainder of the year.

While this may sound like all good news, there is one downside to this purchasing surge: an ammo shortage. If you have a lot of ammo in your basement, you may want to hold onto it. Gun store supplies are low and ammo companies are not operating at capacity because of social distancing restrictions inside factories. With this ammo shortage, new gun owners may find it hard to get out to a range and practice. Now might be a great time to practice dry fire and other training that does not require live fire. ~ David

David Workman
David is an avid gun guy and a contributing writer to several major gun publications. In addition to being an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor and RSO, David trains new shooters on basic handgun skills and CCW requirements and is a strong advocate for training as much as you possibly can. "Real life shootouts don't happen at a box range."


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