2020 was clearly a year unlike any other. While most businesses had to shut down at some point during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially when it first started back in March, there were some others that didn’t have to close up because they are considered “essential.”
One of those such businesses is gun shops. Luckily, they were deemed essential thanks to an executive order from the Trump administration. This order also included shooting ranges and gun manufacturers.
So, what that meant for gun sales is pretty incredible. It was a record-setting year for the industry. Guns were flying off of the shelves into the hands of many first time buyers. Ammunition was in short supply, and existing owners decided to expand their collections for different reasons.
Let’s look at some of the details surrounding this record-breaking year for 2020 in the firearms industry.
21 Million Background Checks for 2020
Think about this…21 million background checks for 2020. It’s an astonishing number of people who went out to purchase their first firearm. When you look at how much that number went up from 2019, you can easily see that this was the year that pushed many people to finally exercise their Second Amendment rights. In 2019, there were only 13.2 million background checks. Due to the fact that 2016 was an election year, the number of background checks hit 15.7 million — but 2020 blew that out of the water.
First Time Gun Buyers Made Waves
It’s hard to tell just looking at total background checks how many of those people were actually first time gun buyers. The NSSF estimates that out of those background checks, 8.4 million people were considered first time gun buyers. They accounted for 40 percent of all sales during that year.
In breaking down who those people actually were, 40 percent of them were women. And it’s not surprising that women felt more comfortable buying guns this year. More and more women were forced to give up their jobs to stay home and care for children who weren’t permitted to be in-person at school. Home defense is a part of that. Waves of social unrest no doubt contributed to this number as well.
Gun Companies Doing Good During the Pandemic
With record setting gun sales and accessories for all of 2020, the gun industry gave back in a number of important ways. For example, Sig Sauer, Federal Premium, Ruger, and Smith & Wesson all donated space and materials to help make protective gear for first responders. Bass Pro shops donated 1 million masks to help out first responders.
What Will 2021 Bring?
Even though the pandemic still goes on into new year, the arrival of the vaccine will hopefully bring about a better sense of normalcy going forward. For the gun industry, 2020 was a banner year, but it will be interesting to see if that pace of success continues in 2021.