America’s firearms industry has grown significantly since the great recession.
The industry has seen a 269 percent increase in economic impact since 2008, according to a report by The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). The trade group said gun companies, their suppliers, and other affected businesses added 33,000 jobs in 2021. They were responsible for over $70.5 billion of economic activity.
“The economic contributions of our industry are indisputably contributing to every state and every community,” Joe Bartozzi, NSSF President and CEO, said in a statement. “This growth equals more jobs that add to our local economies, averaging $56,900 in wages and benefits.”
NSSF reported 169,523 employees work directly for gun and ammo makers, wholesalers, and dealers in 2021. It found another 85,188 worked in industries that supply those companies. It claimed another 121,108 work in ancillary industries.
“The firearm industry has broader impacts throughout the economy,” the group said. “It supports and generates business for firms seemingly unrelated to firearms, at a time when every job in America counts. These are real people, with real jobs, working in industries as varied as banking, retail, accounting, metal working and printing among others.”
The report is the latest indication Americans’ appetite for guns has increased significantly in the past 12 years and the pandemic has only accelerated that increase.
Texas, California, and Florida were the top states for industry jobs and economic impact. New Hampshire, Wyoming, and Idaho topped the list on a per-capita basis. Wyoming, New Jersey, and New Hampshire saw the greatest number of new industry jobs.
The growth comes alongside years of increased gun sales. The NSSF report found industry impact increasing in line with demand, including several years during the Trump Administration when demand flatlined. It shows jobs, wages, and economic impact taking off again in 2019 then accelerating in 2020 through 2021.
FBI background check numbers began declining in the last quarter of 2021 and have continued to lag in the first quarter of 2022. That could signal headwinds for the industry as it attempts to sustain the growth it experienced over the past two years.
“This is the hallmark of the hard-working men and women who prove that the American firearm and ammunition industry is strong,” Bartozzi said. “The growth of firearm and ammunition manufacturing year-after-year shows that this industry continues to meet the American demand for lawful firearm ownership.”
Bartozzi attributed the $7 billion year-over-year growth in the industry primarily to the influx of new gun owners. NSSF found a flood of Americans became new gun owners in 2021 on the heels of even stronger gun ownership growth during the initial onset of the pandemic.
“This industry produces the highest quality firearms and ammunition, and has been proud to welcome over 5.4 million first-time gun buyers in 2021 alone,” Bartozzi said. “These new gun owners are increasingly representative of Americans from all walks of life, including more women and more minority communities that have decided to exercise their right to keep and bear arms and to safely enjoy the recreational shooting sports.”
The NSSF report also noted the contribution of the gun industry toward the nation’s tax base, especially those that fund wildlife preservation. The industry paid over $7.8 billion in federal and state business taxes during 2021. It also paid $1.1 billion in excise taxes which are used in federal conservation efforts.