The year 2020 has brought with it unrest and uncertainty – from the coronavirus pandemic to the wave of nationwide protests and riots that have resulted in a push not only to enact police reform but to defund and abolish entire departments. Amidst these developments, gun store shelves are being wiped bare, and more than two-and-a-half million Americans are estimated to have made the purchase of a firearm for the very first time in their lives.
Data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has found that at least 40% of their sales have come from first-time buyers. Typically, this group accounts for about 25% of buyers. The glut of new owners has ignited a debate as to whether it will solidify a more pro-gun voting bloc and whether it will bring about more of a “middle ground” in the debate over gun legislation. “The huge surge in millions of new gun owners will no doubt have a huge impact on politics in years to come. Long-term, it doesn’t bode well for politicians that don’t support a strong Second Amendment,” conjectured Phil Watson, a gun rights advocate and founder of Washington Public Relations. “Many new gun buyers were surprised they couldn’t walk out of the store with a gun without filling out paperwork and going through background checks. This likely doesn’t bode well for public support of harsher gun laws, as new buyers are discovering the truth for themselves behind a lot of deceptive political rhetoric.” Rob Pincus, director of Personal Defense Network and Vice President of Second Amendment Organization, said that from his purview, the vast majority of new purchasers are “coming from what is left of the moderate middle in the U.S.” “New gun owners are almost exclusively buying guns for defense. They are buying guns, but they are fine with background checks and other restrictions,” he explained. “They aren’t really changing their political position, just their personal choice to own a gun. A smaller number of people are shifting their understanding of gun rights in a more fundamental way. I believe many of the first group will evolve their positions as well, as they become part of the gun-owning community.” [full article]