Much has been made about the number of first-time gun buyers in 2020, which helped drive sales of firearms to record levels – and led to shortages of ammunition in the process. While firearms sales dipped overall in 2021, the year was still the second-highest on record, greatly outpacing pre-pandemic levels.
First-time gun buyers accounted for a large portion of sales again in 2021.
According to new data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a firearm industry trade association, there were some 5.4 million first-time buyers of firearms in 2021. That number can’t be understated, accounts for nearly 30 percent of all of 2021’s gun purchases. The NSSF based its findings on retailer surveys and adjusted data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
For comparison, more than 21 million conducted for the sale of a firearm in 2020, with more than 8.4 million of those estimated to be for first-time buyers. About 40 percent of all firearm purchases in 2020 were for first-time gun buyers.
“We welcome these new gun owners to the greater community of law-abiding Americans who choose to own a firearm for lawful purposes, including self-defense, recreational target shooting and hunting,” NSSF CEO and president Joe Bartozzi said in a press release. “The surveys revealed that new gun owners are continuing to embrace their Second Amendment rights and nearly half of them are seeking out professional training. These trends show that not only is there still a strong interest in gun ownership but also that these new gun owners are interested in learning more about the safe and responsible handling, use and storage of firearms.”
Past NSSF Findings
Past NSSF retailer surveys found that gun buyers are more diverse than ever. There was a 58 percent year-over-year increase of African-Americans who purchased a firearm in 2020 compared to 2019. Tthere was also a 49 percent increase of Hispanic-Americans during the same time period and a 43 percent increase of Asian-Americans buying firearms in 2020 compared to the year prior. Nearly 60 percent of retailers told the NSSF that the increase of these demographic groups of first-time buyers purchasing firearms remain unchanged from 2020 to 2021.
NSSF’s 2021 survey of retailers showed several other key findings:
-Nearly 47 percent of first-time gun buyers in 2021 inquired about training and 43 percent signed up for training.
-Nearly 23 percent of retailers indicated that first-time gun buyers in 2020 purchased another firearm in 2021.
-Over 33 percent of first-time gun buyers in 2021 were women.
-44 percent of retailers saw an increase of African-Americans purchasing firearms in 2021.
-Nearly 40 percent of retailers saw an increase of Hispanic-Americans purchasing firearms in 2021.
-Over 27 percent of retailers saw an increase of Asian-Americans purchasing firearms in 2021.
-Over 18 percent of retailers saw an increase of Native-Americans purchasing firearms in 2021.
-Nearly 14 percent of retailers saw an increase of Native-Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders purchasing firearms in 2021.
This survey comes just weeks after recent polls have found American support for the gun control is at its lowest point in nearly a decade.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.