Numbers In Our Favor

New Data Confirms What We Already Know: Diversity Among Gun Owners Is Increasing, Their Views Are Changing

It’s undisputable: more Americans are becoming firearms owners. NSSF has championed the surge of first-time buyers over the past 18 months, with an estimated 8.4 million first-time buyers joining the ranks of firearms owners in 2020 — followed up by another 3.2 million in the first half of 2021. Through the first nine months of 2021, NSSF-Adjusted NICS background checks have continued at a searing pace with 12,400,995 checks — the second-highest figure on record through Sept. 30, trailing 2020 (15,458,033).

And it’s not just NSSF reporting on these increases. The Wall Street Journal catalogued growing interest, especially among women, in an article published Sept. 16. The article reported on the preliminary results from a 2021 National Firearms Survey, designed by researchers from Harvard and Northeastern University, which reveal close to half of all new U.S. buyers from Jan. 2019–April 2021 were women. According to the study, an estimated 3.5 million women became new gun owners, while about 4 million men became new gun owners over that period.

Another encouraging facet of the survey — lending further credence to what has been reported by industry sources — these new gun buyers are a racially diverse group. Among new gun buyers, 55% were white, 21% were Black and 19% were Hispanic. Of the 3.5 million new women gun owners, more than a quarter were Black (28%).

Gun Ownership Changes Views

Correlating with the rise in first-time gun buyers over the past 18+ months, Americans’ views on gun ownership has changed, as well. Pew Research Center recently updated its research on guns, which yields compelling findings.

The Center’s April 2021 survey revealed the number of Americans favoring stricter gun laws has declined since 2019. In the April survey, 53% favored stricter gun laws — compared to 60% in Sept. 2019.

In another April 2021 Pew Research Center survey, around half of Americans (48%) see gun violence as “a very big problem” in the country today — comparable to the share who say the same about the federal budget deficit, violent crime, illegal immigration and the coronavirus outbreak.

The numbers speak for themselves: as Americans are concerned with the threat of violence, they’ve turned to buying firearms to protect themselves and loved ones — likely something you’ve heard countless times since March 2020.

Next Steps

As reported last week, shedding the “stale, pale, male” tag has been a goal of the industry for some time. The events of the past couple years have amplified these efforts, and the onus has to be on re-engaging these new buyers and developing long-term enthusiasts.

In addition to capitalizing on increased diversity, dealers can benefit by continuing to invest in training and education resources for these buyers.

Share your thoughts: how are you planning to re-engage and develop these first-time buyers in the future? Let us know: