People who purchased a gun for the first time during the pandemic may not look like previous gun owners, but they overwhelmingly share the same opinions on gun laws.
Those were the findings of a new survey released Thursday from NORC at the University of Chicago. 86 percent of first-time buyers identified in the survey were under 45, compared to 41 percent for pre-pandemic owners. 69 percent were people of color, compared to 26 percent of pre-pandemic owners.
“Increasing gun sales during the pandemic were driven in nearly equal parts by people purchasing a gun for the first time and existing gun owners purchasing additional firearms,” John Roman, NORC Senior Fellow, said in a press release. “New gun owners during the pandemic were much more likely to be younger and People of Color compared to pre-pandemic gun owners in America.”
The data provides more support for the observational retail survey data taken throughout the massive spike in gun sales during the pandemic. If valid, it confirms that the landscape of American gun ownership has shifted massively in just the last two years.
The survey found that about 5 percent of all adults in America purchased a gun for the first time during the two-year period between March 2020 and March 2022. It also found that 46 percent of American households now report having a gun in the home.
Even with such a surge in first-time ownership and a shift in the demographics of gun ownership the survey found that attitudes toward gun control among new owners largely mirror those of existing gun owners. Equal shares of first-time and existing gun owners (68 percent) support allowing people to carry concealed firearms into more places. Likewise, 41 percent of both first-time and existing gun owners said they supported allowing them to do so without a permit.
However, first-time pandemic gun buyers were actually more likely than existing owners to say they supported shortening waiting periods for gun purchases and allowing teachers to carry guns in K-12 schools. Both first-time and existing gun owners were significantly more likely to support each of the policies polled than non-gun owners.
“First-time gun buyers’ attitudes toward gun control look remarkably similar to those of the pre-pandemic U.S. gun owner,” Roman said. “Whether they bought a gun because of existing beliefs about gun control—or owning a gun changed their policy views—is unknown, but it is notable that the policy positions of new gun owners are so different from non-gun owners.”
The survey was conducted March 3–7, 2022 among 1,106 adults aged 18 and up. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.85 percent.