The problem with setting a record is that it makes it that much harder to break it.
In the case of firearms sales, the bar was raised considerably in 2020, which sailed past all records. Yet, given that the first quarter of the year has also seen records suggest that 2021 could be another year to beat.
“Our tremendous sales growth and profitability in 2020 was driven by the historic surge in consumer demand that began late in the first quarter and continued throughout the year,” said Christopher J. Killoy, chief executive officer at Sturm, Ruger & Co. But that is only part of the story. Our ability to capitalize on this opportunity was only possible through the efforts of our remarkable workforce of 1,800 dedicated employees.”
Already this year, Smith & Wesson reported that its sales for the first quarter are double over the same period last year. It was the third consecutive record-breaking quarter for the Massachusetts-based company, which announced it had sold more than 600,000 firearms and accessories – worth more than a quarter of a billion dollars.
2020’s Strong Sales
A number of factors drove sales in 2020, beginning with the uncertainty that came with the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In the twelve days after the March 13, 2020 proclamation by then President Donald J. Trump that declared a national emergency, firearm sales surged, jumping to more than 120,000 per day. March 16, 2020, saw 176,000 firearms sold – a record up until that point, while the month saw more than 700,000 additional firearms sales.
Sales further increased following the wave of often violent protests that began after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The election of President Joe Biden, who had campaigned on gun control, further spurred sales.
According to a Brookings Institute report from last July, spring 2020 saw the largest spike to that point in firearms sales with more than three million firearms sold.
What has remained notable about 2020 is that it wasn’t just the usual buyers. Last year saw an uptick of first-time buyers and according to industry reports from the National Sports Shooting Foundation (NSSF) there were more than five million new gun owners. While many in the liberal media have tried to paint gun owners as mostly being middle-aged white guys, 2020 saw many women and minority buyers of firearms, and the trend has continued into 2021.
With President Biden not only calling for more gun control but urging lawmakers to act in the recent address to a joint session of congress, sales are likely to only further increase.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Arizona), who was live-tweeting during the address, posted “Biden is becoming the leading salesman for guns.” Such sentiments aren’t far from the truth. As the Brookings Institute report also noted, past spikes in firearms have occurred when individuals were worried about possible restrictions.
An irony is that every time a liberal lawmaker calls for greater gun control and efforts to “get guns off the street,” those calls end up just driving up sales. Given the recent calls and continued uncertainty, 2021 should be a banner year for the firearms industry. It could also even cost his party the House and Senate in the mid-terms, but as it stands Biden seems unlikely to change course.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.