Millions of Americans have already become new gun owners this year, according to a new survey.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a firearms industry trade group, released its latest retailer survey on Thursday. Dealers reported in the survey that roughly 3.2 million people purchased a gun for the first time during the first half of 2021.
“We are encouraged by the sustained interest in lawful and responsible gun ownership as well as by the manufacturing base which has been challenged to meet this remarkable demand,” Joe Bartozzi, NSSF President and CEO, said in a statement.
The survey findings suggest that increased demand among first-time buyers has continued following last year’s record-breaking estimates. The continuation of this trend could have notable political effects when public support for new gun laws has started to decline. The survey found that Americans aged 30 and under were the most represented age group among first-time gun buyers this year. That same age group has also shown the sharpest decline in support for new gun-control measures, according to polling data.
Surveys of retailers conducted by industry groups have significant limitations, experts told The Reload in August.
“I don’t think we have good data on first-time gun buyers,” Robert Leider, a George Mason University law professor who studies guns in America, said at the time. “The NSSF data comes from a retail survey which is not the most scientific source.”
Public polling, another common way to measure gun ownership, has yet to show a significant increase in self-reported gun ownership among Americans. Experts noted those polls are likely undercounting gun ownership, though.
“Surveys underestimate the absolute level of gun ownership, mainly because gun owners are afraid their admission of gun ownership could somehow lead to the authorities seizing their guns or even arresting them for unlawful possession,” Gary Kleck, a Florida State University professor who has conducted nationwide gun surveys, said in August.
The NSSF survey also found increased demand for guns among minority groups across the board.
“Over 90 percent of retailers reported an increase of African American men purchasing firearms,” and “Nearly 87 percent of retailers reported an increase of African American women purchasing firearms,” the survey found.
More than eight-in-ten retailers reported an increase among Hispanic-American men and women as well. Likewise, over 76 percent of retailers reported increased sales among Asian-American men and women.
NSSF sent the survey to gun retailers between July and August of this year.
Bartozzi said the survey results show Americans are likely to continue driving up demand for guns even after the unprecedented sales the industry has experienced over the past year and a half.
“This survey shows that there is a continuing demand signal for firearms from the American public,” Bartozzi said. “We witnessed each month background check figures associated with a gun sale that are second only to those we saw in last year’s record-breaking totals. These survey results show not only is there a strong and healthy appetite from first-time gun buyers but that there is still room to grow.”