Americans bought nearly 40 million new guns in the calendar year 2020, the highest amount on record since the FBI started tracking the number in 1998. This was a 40 percent increase from the previous year, the most guns ever sold in the United States.
An estimated 5 million of these purchases were made by first-time gun owners, no doubt inspired by the instability that the coronavirus introduced into American life.
People buy guns for all manner of reasons, and new gun owners come into the fold every year. But the coronavirus made a lot of people consider buying a gun for the very first time.
Many new gun owners are variations from the traditional gun-buying demographic, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, or NSSF.
Gun sales among Black Americans rose 58 percent in 2020. Sales to women were up as much as 40 percent in the last year. Gun ownership is diversifying in the United States, as are the reasons for owning guns. And so many new gun owners were directly motivated by the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus and the long months of quarantine.
Some bought handguns for home defense as civil unrest increased throughout the year. Some bought long guns for hunting, after grocery-store shelves began running low on meat. Some bought their guns to pick up a new hobby while quarantined.
And with 5 million new consumers on board, the gun industry can expect a good year in 2021.
CBS News reported on it in November, citing record stock prices for gun manufacturers after declining sales since 2016.
All gun owners know that a purchase like this carries on well beyond initial firearm ownership. Gun owners must buy ammunition — which has become even more scarce since the coronavirus began — and often spend money on gun ranges and shooting clubs.
There are attendant purchases like holsters, firearm safes and gun-care kits.
And then there are accessories for the guns themselves. You can buy kits to upgrade existing guns, and parts to enhance the shooting experience. People can buy speed loaders, tripods and bipods to stabilize the gun for target shooting and hunting. There are dozens of accessories that gun owners can purchase for their firearms.
Serious shooters are always concerned about accuracy. The best way to make sure the bullet goes where it is supposed to is to use a scope. Most hunters and target shooters agree that for long-range shooting, FFP scopes are best.
FFP is a first focal plane scope, as opposed to an SFP scope, where the target is on the second focal plane. FFP keeps the target reticle constant, no matter the magnification, allowing for great accuracy even over very long ranges.
The coronavirus has changed many aspects of US life. It’s made us thankful for things we used to take for granted, taught us new ways of looking at the world and the society we’ve built. And it’s made new gun owners of 5 million Americans.