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Gun Sales Boom: 11 Million Americans Bought Guns for 1st Time in 2020

Glock 19X
Glock 19X. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The Great Gun Sales Boom: When Will It End? On Wednesday, marking the ninth anniversary of the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, President Joe Biden used the occasion to call for new gun control. He called for the Senate to pass three bills, including one on additional background checks, one aimed at keeping firearms out of the hands of drug abusers, and another that would be part of the Build Back Better Act, which includes programs for community violence intervention.

“We owe all of these families more than our prayers. We owe them action,” the president said of those who have been impacted by gun violence.

Since taking office, President Biden has taken a tough stance on firearms and has repeatedly called for action, yet there has been little movement from lawmakers. Even many moderates within his own party see it as a losing battle. Based on the record sales of firearms in the United States last year, and the continued strong sales this year, it is clear that an increased number of Americans are exercising their Second Amendment rights.

The Gun Sales Boom: Who Is Buying? 

Last year saw upwards of 11 million first-time gun buyers, while women, Asian Americans, African Americans, and Latinos all were seen as the fastest-growing segment of new gun owners. It is apparent that gun owners aren’t just gray-haired white males these days.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearms industry trade association, which tracks the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), reported that there were 187,585 checks on Black Friday – making it among the top 10 highest days on record. There had also been 687,778 backgrounds checks during the week leading up to and including Black Friday.

“This figure of over 687,000 background checks is truly remarkable,” said Joe Bartozzi, NSSF president and CEO. “This year has already been shaping up to be the second strongest year for firearm sales on record, second only to 2020’s record-breaking number of 21 million background checks for a firearm sale. We anticipate, based on annual data, that firearm sales will rise during the final month of the year coinciding with hunting seasons and holiday sales. This figure, though, underscores the appetite for lawful firearm ownership in America and the resilience of the firearm and ammunition industry to meet that demand.”

Ammo sales were also at record levels in 2020 and going into this year as well.

Gun Sales Remain Strong

With just two and a half weeks left in 2021, this year will already go down as the second highest in terms of overall firearms sales nationally surpassed only by 2020. What is notable is that he first half of the year actually outpaced last year in the same time period.

Moreover, sales have remained strong even in states not considered especially “gun friendly.” It was reported this week that New York was among the states to see the second highest year of sales on record, and seven of the top 10 days for firearm backgrounds occurred this year.

According to the Times Union newspaper, “there have been 425,778 firearm background checks in New York in the first 11 months of 2021, far surpassing pre-pandemic gun-buying levels in 2019, when the FBI reported 355,374 total firearm background checks in the state.”

Last year, the FBI conducted a record 507,940 firearms background checks in the Empire State, and some 21 million nationally.

“The increase in new shooters has been astronomical,” Steve Meyen, manager of Mid-Hudson Sporting, who both sells guns and offers target shooting lessons, told the Times Union.

The trend in female shooters has continued with some shops in New York reporting a 120 percent increase in female buyers from before the pandemic.

Given these facts, perhaps Biden will come around to the idea that Americans may want to address the issue of violence in our communities, but gun control isn’t the solution.

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

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.