The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) reported that there have been nearly five million first time gun buyers thus far in 2020.

On August 24, 2020, NSSF contrasted the number of National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks from January 1, 2020, through July, 2020, with the number of checks from January 1, 2019, through July 2019. After adjusting for checks that were tied to concealed carry permits or other ends, other than sales, they ascertained that the number of checks for sales was 12.1 million.

NSSF then surveyed retailers and found that “40 percent of sales were conducted to purchasers who have never previously owned a firearm.” Forty percent of 12.1 million is 4,840,000, or nearly five million sales.

NSSF senior vice president of general counsel Larry Keane commented on the new gun buyers, saying:

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This is a tectonic shift in the firearm and ammunition industry marketplace and complete transformation of today’s gun-owning community. 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,” Keane said.

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.

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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.

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

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