New Explanation for Gun Sales Surge: Baby Boomers Go Bang

Gun sales are up. NICS background checks are up. Firearms carry permit applications are up. TTAG’s readership numbers are up. The whole damn firearms industry is experiencing unprecedented priapism, a trend that started just before President Obama’s election and continued right through to 20 minutes ago. In previous posts we’ve suggested a perfect storm of reasons: the post-Heller decision rollback of gun restrictions, an resurgent gun culture (aided and abetted by the Internet and videogames), common sense and ye olde fear of gun grabbing. Here’s one I missed. ”The biggest new group of buyers now are senior citizens,” Larry Hyatt, owner of a North Carolina gun shop, said on CNBC’s Closing Bell [above]. “Ten thousand Baby Boomers a day are turning 65; they can’t run, they can’t fight, they got to shoot.” Shooting is fighting but point taken: talking about my g-g-g-g-eneration.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

38 Responses to New Explanation for Gun Sales Surge: Baby Boomers Go Bang

  1. avatarNobody says:

    Many people bought a gun for self defense, and as the states began issuing permits they were even more encouraged to practice. What was once strictly a defense reason soon became a hobby (okay, addiction).
    I know many people who have gone from one gun a few years ago to several today. Reading online about various calibers and experiences feeds the addiction.

    • avatarRIGHT! says:

      Once they get a taste of a 22LR used against charging soda cans they never go back!

    • avatarFyrewerx says:

      It only took four burglary attempts on my residence (upscale neighborhood), two were successful, one of those was a home invasion, to get me restarted. And as Nobody pointed out, my “addiction” grew… Glock 19, AK-47, AR-15, Taurus, M&P Shield, Mosberg 500 JIC…. and on, and on. LOL

      “My name is Fyrewerx, and I’m a(n) (old) gunaholic.”

      • avatarNobody says:

        Please stop! Admitting you’re a gun/anything-aholic is the first sign of recovery. Recovery bad. Addiction good.
        Joking aside, I’m sorry to hear that you endured all of that – especially a home invasion. Hopefully it all worked out well for you and your family.

        • avatarFyrewerx says:

          My wife was the only one home at the time. As the BG was kicking in the front door, she hightailed it out the back with a cordless phone. Sheriff’s team began showing up within 3 minutes. Somehow, the BG managed to ransack the medicine cabinets (got nothing) and make off with a brand new 26″ flatpanel TV that was waiting on the floor to be hung up the next day. Totally amazing how he managed to escape at all. The Glock 19 is my wife’s. The Shield is mine. We are fortunate to live close to one of the Gander Mountain Super Academies, and have taken several of the simulation courses already.

        • avatarMatt in FL says:

          “Please stop! Admitting you’re a gun/anything-aholic is the first sign of recovery.”

          As the saying goes, “I’m not an alcoholic, I’m a drunk. Alcoholics go to meetings.”

      • avatarNobody says:

        @ Fyrewerx
        Wow! Quite the experience. Smart wife (really smart), and safe outcome. I’m so happy to hear that your wife was smart and safe. Again, wow! I’ve been involved in a few necessary defensive situations, and I think your wife was brilliant and exceptional.

  2. avatarRIGHT! says:

    Priapism and Baby Boomers in the same article; Do you think that would stand-up in a journalism class?

  3. avatarPhydeaux says:

    A neighbor of mine in his 70s recently bought a .38 revolver for home protection, and asked if I’d take him to the range to try it out. I gladly obliged and we spent the day on the action range, shooting at self defense distances, behind cover, etc.

    He had trouble racking the slide on my G23, but had no problem pulling the revolver’s 8 lb trigger.

  4. avatarjwm says:

    i keep telling people we’re much better off for gun rights now than 30 years ago. and the older baby boomers are a larger portion of the population than ever before and us old farts vote as well.
    and yes i’m not going to run. some twwenty something with a sense of entitlement will meet with a sad reality check if he kicks in my door.

  5. avatarRKflorida says:

    I would attribute it to the reason for the 2nd amendment: defend against tyranny. Many who are buying guns have never owned one, or have not owned one in many years (me). I don’t attribute these folks the hobby theory, although it could become one. I also believe many folks own only 1 handgun and maybe a second long gun (me). I could be wrong but at least this category of people greatly contribute to sales going through the roof. Old folks getting prepared to say NO and back it up. Old folks especially like S&W and I believe they are really driving up the revolver sales.

  6. avatarPascal says:

    +1 to the OFWG……but….that demographic does not matter. What is happening in the 24-35 demographic? Why, because they will be the ones who ultimately decide what happens to gun rights and they have had steady diet of far left bs in school, tv, music and movies and is the Democratic target audience for social issues and are also the entitled generation. OFWG do not bother me but it 20yrs time, then what?

    • avatarjwm says:

      i think that when this younger group see the elders in their lives normalise the carrying and use of guns a large number of them will see the light.

    • avatarMichael B. says:

      I’ve found that many people in my generation are curious about guns and haven’t decided one way or another. That’s why I do my best to introduce them to them. The Ruger 10/22 is responsible for more converts than I care to remember.

  7. avatarSilver says:

    Went to a huge gun show in Phoenix, AZ today and it’s a little heartening to see many from my generation (20-30 year olds) there and participating, though still very disproportionate to the older people. Whatever the reasons, good to see people of all generations growing into firearms.

  8. avatarmiforest says:

    as the article below states, the world is getting crazier. Ask any nurse or police officer. They deal with the public frequently, and with a large cross section of society. One nurse I know said they are getting people more hostile and unusual than they ever had . She has been in the field over 30 years, and works in a major hospital.
    Flash mobs taking delight in beating people, the absolute civil war in mexico, we aint in kansas any more toto.
    In our area they run constant “have a plan ” and “be prepared ” public service ads on radio. warning us all to be ready for a undefined emergency. Its very creepy in a 1984 sort of way. There are ads for businesses and ads for familys.

    Older people are very vulnerable in any kind of civil unrest/disaster. The wise are taking precautions.

  9. avatargimlet says:

    As great as it is to see more baby boomers (or any folks really) exercising their right to responsibly bear arms, I think that we who advocate for gun rights really need to be courting younger people more. The millenials like myself (I’m 22 and a freshly-minted CHL holder) are next in line to defend our rights into the future, and my generation seems largely absent from the pro-2A party. I try to put the “bug” in my friends’ ears when I can, but my friend group is mostly left-leaning and gun-phobic (i don’t think liberal beliefs are necessarily incompatible with the right to bear arms and protection from harm, but they do) …

    • avatarNobody says:

      You have a valid point. My son-in-law caught the bug from shooting with me. He was apprehensive at first because of his view of “gun nuts” (anyone who has a gun) was largely formed by the media. He’s hooked now. I’m like a heroin dealer. Free samples until you’re hooked.
      My nephews and nieces did the same and also learned from both my brother and I. Yes, we’re courting the younger ones. As Right! said, you start on a .22LR and they never go back.
      The real thrill for me was a couple of weeks ago. My granddaughter (she’s 5) is an Annie Oakley in training. All of the grand kids loved it, but she (the youngest) was the most serious.
      Warning: Grandpa brag time – My grand son (he’s 9) shot all six rounds of a .44 mag by the end of the day.
      I think most of the “Grandpa’s” out there are like me. We court the younger ones whenever we can.

      • avatarjwm says:

        +1, kids, grandkids and anybody else that show’s an interest.

        • avatarNobody says:

          Definitely agree! And when there is little/no interest, we get to create it (without being overbearing).
          It’s amazing how something as generic as a watermelon (or water balloons) can create interest. Teaching and watching the little ones is an experience beyond comparison.
          Sometimes the “kids” show an interest from afar. My grand daughter took a couple of hours to even give it a try. Perhaps she was just absorbing. When she was ready, she was more focused than her older brothers, and she was intent on following every safety instruction.

  10. avatarGuy22 says:

    I am a baby boomer born in 1955. I went to college, and since worked my ass off for my family.
    House paid for. Two fairly new cars. Kids through college. For once in my life I have some extra income.

    I meet guys like me all the time. We like guns and shooting. Car’s are great but expensive. Girls cost a lot of money and cause problems I don’t want. Boats are good for about half a year.

    We can buy what we want. There is usually no need.
    We buy 3 or 4 guns a year because we can, and want too.
    Going shooting for a hour or two, is relaxing and fun.
    Like Golf!!!
    Guy22

  11. avatarSnachnim says:

    RF dude you are making me feel old now. Actually I would be generation Y, but having said that I have broken free from the liberal teachings for theist part. Many of my friends have as well. Being in CA you can only imagine how strong the feelings are.

  12. avatarRalph says:

    The really meaningful demo among new gun owners is women. Pink guns are everywhere, and so are female shooters. The ladies are not “gun nuts,” and most of them wouldn’t know an “assault weapon” from a salt shaker. In fact, they are still impressionable enough to favor an AWB. But — and this is a big but — if some guy tries to take their Glocks away from them, the gun toting ladies will cut off his nuts and wear them for ear rings.

    When soccer moms are buying SIGs, you know that guns are here to stay.

  13. avatarAharon says:

    In my CC class last night, 3/4 of the class was under 35 years old and 20% were women.

  14. avataruncommon_sense says:

    Forgive me if this sounds crass … I cannot think of a nice way to ask my questions. If Baby Boomers are buying so many firearms, what will happen to all those firearms as those boomers age and die? Does this mean there might be quite a nice market in lightly used firearms in about 10 to 20 years?

    • avatarNobody says:

      Your question isn’t crass at all, in my opinion. For what it’s worth, here’s my experience:
      My son-in-law, who used to hate the idea of guns, now refers to my Ruger Blackhawk as “his” gun. My niece claims my Single-Ten as hers. My daughter claims my SP100 as hers because it reminds her of the S&W Model 10 I gave her years ago. My son claims several, and my other daughters are the same. Nieces and nephews and grand kids are all starting to lay their claims.
      I could go through the list of each gun I own and who wants to claim it, but the point is (hopefully) made. As we teach and show the younger ones, they get attached to their favorites. As it was with me, their favorites expand as their experience grows.
      A couple of old farts get to see the expansion of their families, and that family, exposed to this world of guns, will not let these tools end up in a garage sale. They see the value that cannot be measured in monetary terms, but in the peaceful comfort of personal safety and memories that never fade.

    • avatarjwm says:

      my guns will go to those in my circle that want them. hopefully they will pass them along when the time comes. i’d like to think that 50 years from now my grandson will be carrying poppa’s 442 as he goeas about his dailey life.

  15. avataruncommon_sense says:

    I think Baby Boomers have the most time and money for firearms. That would explain a lot of their purchasing.

    I believe people in their 20s and 30s are starting careers, settling into homes and apartments, and starting families. They might have a ton of interest but lack both time, energy, and cash for firearms. I believe positive encouragement and patience is the answer.

    For example I told a friend about concealed carry a while back. He had never really thought about it. After a bit, the idea sounded interesting to him but it wasn’t a priority. Fast forward about two years and he is now looking for training and figures he will get his concealed carry license after Christmas. It is contagious. My wife’s cousin started all of us. Because of him, there are now three more (and soon to be four counting my friend) concealed carriers in the population.

    Here is a great idea. Whenever possible, Baby Boomers should purchase an inexpensive firearm for someone in the younger generation — whether it is an inexpensive .22 rifle for a 14 year old or an inexpensive handgun for a young adult in their 20s. Get people involved, teach them responsibility, and enjoy the results!

    • avatarjwm says:

      i actually do that now. i’m debt free with a paid for house. i have lost track of the number of people i’ve gotten into shooting and 22 rifles are a cheap investment in our future shooters.

  16. avatarLeftShooter says:

    In my training classes, I have a bimodal age distribution: most of my students are either 20-30 or 50-70, with the latter becoming more prevalent. I also see more than 30% women. In short, I guess my eastern MA market is in concert with the gun trends of the rest of the country.

  17. avatarZealot says:

    I can’t and won’t speak for an entire generation, but my parents are boomers born in ’48. That put them right in the heart of the hippy movement and all that came with it. I grew up knowing them as liberal-leaning independents that almost never voted Republican. I wasn’t even allowed to own toy guns growing up.

    As they grew older they seemed to grow out of that and now in the mid sixties are shockingly conservative (for where they “began”). My brother and I own, carry and preach guns and when I first got into it, I was afraid of some push back. However, quite the opposite has turned out to be true. My dad loves guns, loves to shoot with us and is weighing what his first purchase will be!

    • avatarHerb says:

      This is a most interesting thread. I’m a boomer born in ’48. Skipped the hippie movement & joined the Army, went to Vietnam, served in the Guard, break in service, entered the Reserves & retired last year. My wife & I not blessed with children but we were both rifle & pistol shooters in the military.. Don’t know what we will do with our guns when the time comes.

      I’ve bought guns from estate sales, so somebody had to die for me to get some nice piece he owned for decades. Now, that’s a chilling thought as time marches on. Even more chilling is the possibility that we will not die of natural causes as it has become a truly crazy world, a little less so here in South Carolina. Hope when I do I’m standing up.

  18. avatarPANTERA VAZQUEZ says:

    Please re-post (comment sent to your email) with CAPS LOCK OFF. Thank you for your understanding.

  19. avatarrbm411 says:

    Don’t pick a fight with an old man. He might be tired and just shoot you.

  20. avatarLarry says:

    What does “priapism”, an abnormal often painful persistent erection of the penis have to do with New Explanation of Gun Sales Surge? Just curious.

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