The Corner

Politics & Policy

Five Million Americans Became First-Time Gun Owners in 2020

Using the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System, National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearm trade association, estimates that there were over 12 million guns bought in the first seven months of 2020 — up more than 70 percent over the same time span in 2019. This number is likely to include nearly 5 million first-time gun owners so far this year. That is probably the biggest surge in gun ownership in American history. It’s worth noting, too, that the number would likely be higher if gun shops hadn’t been trying to keep up with demand for months.

It’ll be interesting to see the long-term political implications of this surge. The 2020 Democratic ticket is the first in history to feature a candidate that has explicitly called for the confiscation of firearms. One imagines many of these first-time buyers aren’t hobbyists, but rather people who felt the need to arm themselves for self-defense — either because of the coronavirus crisis, the rioting and lawlessness, or the “defund the police” efforts. If Joe Biden wins the presidency, gun sales are sure to keep spiking.

Last year, around 30 percent of Americans told Gallup they owned a firearm, while 43 percent said they lived in a gun household. I suspect these polls slightly undercount the total — as gun owners aren’t always the type to share this kind of personal information with strangers. Either way, there are now 5 million new law-abiding gun owners in the United States who are going to be less susceptible to the Democrats’ scaremongering.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer for National Review and the author of First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun

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