About 17 million firearms have been purchased in the United States this year alone, shattering previous records of firearm sales amid the COVID-19 pandemic and growing social unrest.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) analyzed NICS data and pegged the number at 17.2 million, which exceeds the number of firearms purchased in the entirety of last year (13.2 million).
“This much is clear as we head into Election Day. Americans of all political persuasions are exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms and doing so in record numbers,” said Mark Oliva, NSSF’s Director of Public Affairs. “This hasn’t been a phenomenon of just red states, but also blue states.”
Oliva also pointed out that nearly 7 million of this year’s purchases were made by first-time gun buyers.
“Never before have so many Americans chosen to exercise their right to firearm ownership, including the estimated 6.9 million who purchased a firearm for the first time this year. Additionally, this has been a sustained period of firearm sales since March. This is clearly not a one-off event,” he said.
Small Arms Analytics, which also tracks firearms sales in the U.S., estimated that Americans have purchased just under 17 million firearms so far this year.
“By August, we had exceeded last year’s total. By September, we exceeded the highest total ever,” said Jurgen Brauer, the chief economist of Small Arms Analytics.
Brauer told The Guardian that this year’s sales total already exceeds the total of any full year the organization has on record. The previous record, set amidst the last presidential race in 2016, was 16.6 million. This year has already broken that record, and the election results aren’t even in yet.
Oliva believes that these 17 million new and veteran gun owners have a clear choice in presidential candidates.
“It cannot be discounted that today’s gun buyers are faced with polar opposites of presidential candidates when it comes to protecting Second Amendment rights. President Donald Trump vowed to safeguard this right and former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Senator Kamala Harris have both embraced outright confiscation of lawfully owned firearms as the headliner of the most far-reaching gun control agenda to be presented to the American voter.
“America is watching and is already voting with their wallets when it comes to lawful firearm ownership,” he said.
This year’s run on guns has been a boon for firearm and ammunition manufacturers (except Remington… sorry, Big Green), but many have struggled to keep up with the demand. Most calibers have become difficult to find, and there’s reason to believe that both gun and ammunition shortages will remain for the foreseeable future.
Joe Biden’s platform is likely to exacerbate the hysteria. Biden has vowed to ban America’s most popular rifle (the AR-15), ban ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, ban online sales of ammunition and gun parts, mandate “smart gun” technology, and impose a host of additional restrictions.
Paired with the recent unrest, it’s no wonder Americans are hoping to snag a self-defense tool before it’s too late.