Driven by uncertainty, fear, and a need to feel safe, first-time gun owners across the country are snapping up firearms in record numbers. As a result, gun sales surged across the United States.
Gun Sales Projected to Set New Records in 2021
The National Sports Shooting Foundation reported that Americans bought nearly 5.5 million guns during the first quarter of 2021.
This means that sales are up 13% from a year ago. In addition, the 5.5 million guns are the most the United States managed to sell since 1999. If the first quarter’s pace continues, 2021 can obliterate the record set in 2020, when the US sold 21 million. In contrast, Americans purchased only 8.5 million guns in 2008.
Among manufacturers, Smith & Wesson sold more than 600,000 guns and accessories in its late fiscal quarter that ended in January.
This is also double the number sold the previous year. Since 2020, shares of Smith & Wesson also more than doubled to nearly $18. Prior to the pandemic, S&W stocks traded under $8.
Political Uncertainty Is Driving Gun Sales Up
Wellesley economist Phillip Levine said political uncertainty often spurs gun sales. He believes that the widespread discussion about the need for gun access restrictions likely pushed up gun purchases this year.
Also, the pandemic acted as a tailwind. “I don’t think we are in an environment where gun sales are going to fall anytime soon,” Levine said.
Eric Wallace owns and manages Adventure Outdoors in Smyrna, Georgia, “We expect to sell more guns this April than any other April we’ve ever had,” he said. Adventure Outdoor is the country’s largest gun store with 80,000 square feet of selling space.
Stimulus Payments Helped Americans Purchase Guns
Wallace also thinks that the latest stimulus payment also helped increase gun sales. He noted that Adventure Outdoors reported an increase in sales last March.
In addition, the temporary shortage in 2020 also forced many Americans to hold off buying guns until this year.
Wallace reported that the biggest sellers consist of concealed-carry handguns. Guns purchased for personal defense accounted for 70%. In addition, hunting rifles also went up as well.
“The conditions are different this year,” said Mark Oliva, director of the National Sports Shooting Foundation. “There are a lot of concerns about personal safety, but the talk of gun control in Congress is undeniably a factor that drives sales,” he added.
Federal Background Check Confirms Gun Sales
Federal background check records support the report of an uptick in gun sales. FBI data revealed that six of the top 10 days for instant background checks happened in March 2021 alone.
Buyers need to undergo background checks before getting handed a gun. The FBI completed 1,218,002 total firearm checks in the week of March 15-21, a new record.
January posted more than 4 million background checks, compared with January 2020s 2.7 million. The FBI reported 3.4 million checks in February 2021 compared to 2.8 million in February last year.
Meanwhile, March 2021 completed 4.7 million background checks compared to 3.7 million in the same period last year.
First Time Gun Buyers Driving Up Gun Sales
An NSSF 2020 survey reported that 40% of customers consist of first-time gun buyers. Confirming what Wallace said, many first-time buyers preferred a semiautomatic handgun. It outsells the second most popular product, shotguns two to one.
In addition, shooting incidents often result in lawmakers calling for increased gun control. This also created an unintended effect.
“We see this trend often. Whenever high-profile mass shootings occur, people begin stockpiling weapons out of fear that the government will restrict gun rights,” said James Densley, co-founder of The Violence Project. The Violence Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center that tracks public mass shootings in the US.
Watch the Fox 4 Now news video reporting that first-time gun ownership continues to climb:
Did you purchase a new firearm this year? Did you feel the need to purchase a new firearm because of everything that’s happening?
Let us know what you think about increased gun sales in the US. Share your comments below.