How to Save The U.S. Firearms Industry

New shooter at NSSF First Shots (courtesy youtube.com)

As much as I hate to admit it, gun control advocates are right about one thing: the U.S. firearms industry depends on a relatively small number of gun owners buying more guns. Small in comparison to the entire U.S. population. In June of 2017, pewsocialtrends.org reported . . .

Three-in-ten American adults say they currently own a gun, and another 11% say they don’t personally own a gun but live with someone who does.

The U.S. population is around 325m. If Pew’s numbers are correct — and I suspect they are — the U.S. firearms industry is selling their wares to 33 percent of the population, or some 107m potential customers,

Only that’s not entirely accurate. Some percentage of 107m potential customers have a gun or three and . . . aren’t going to buy another one. Maybe not for a long time. Maybe not ever.

(courtesy qz.com)

The People of the Gun trust gun ownership polls about as much as they trust the ATF. But for the sake of the firearm industry’s future, let’s take the following gun ownership polling data (as reported by qz.com) at face value:

The average American gun owner owns three guns, according to a 2015 survey conducted by Harvard and Northwestern University.

More than a half of them own just one or two, whereas 14% of them – 7.7 million or 3% of the US population – own anywhere between eight to 140 guns.

This 3% of the population owns half of the civilian guns in the US.

That three percent figure has historical resonance; three percent of proto-Americans were part of the anti-British Minutemen militia. But for our purposes the stat highlights the central problem with today’s firearms industry: it’s aimed in the wrong direction.

The industry is trying to sell firearms to the 14 percent of “super-owners” and the other 19 percent of gun owners who aren’t “super-owners.” Completely ignoring the two-thirds of Americans who don’t own a gun.

Surely these non-gun owners — 2/3 of the U.S. population — don’t own a gun because they’re anti-gun, right? Wrong.

(courtesy pewsocialtrends.org)

“Among those who don’t currently own a gun,” pewsocialtrends.org reports, “about half say they could see themselves owning one in the future.” So some 36 percent of the U.S. population — around 117m Americans — are ripe for the picking, gun-buying wise.

Or not. How many of these potential buyers can afford a gun or guns? How many live in a community that frowns on gun ownership? In other words, why haven’t they bought a gun? 

Hell if I know. But if I were a gun company whose profit margins were sliced to the bone by the current gun glut, sorry, lack of demand, I’d want to find out. Knowing that if my gun company could win a first-time gun buyer — and maintain close, effective communications with them — I’d have a new customer in both the short and long term.

Here’s something else I know: the first rule of sales. Make it easy to buy.

Again, I don’t know why these 117m Americans haven’t acted on their desire to purchase a firearm. I suspect few of them live in Constitutional Carry states. In other words, they find buying a gun a daunting task. There’s no one there to guide them through the first time buying process: what gun do I buy, how do I store it, how do I shoot it, etc.

And that’s how the U.S. firearms industry can increase demand, raise profits and help secure America’s gun rights. Stop preaching (i.e. selling) to the converted. Start preaching to the 117m Americans teetering on the firearms fence.

The industry’s lobbying group, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, should use members’ money to promote hand-holding new shooter programs. I know they  already run their First Shots initiative, but who’s heard of it? The NSSF should be marketing the F out of it. Billboards. Radio ads. TV ads. And sue those mainstream media outlets that refuse to accept an ad for a legal product sold legally.

Failing that, some large gunmaker’s got to take this bull by the horns and do it all by their lonesome. As I mentioned, the prize is significant. In any case, there’s no getting around it: the current sales paradigm — lots of competition chasing the same customers — is tapped out.

Everything either grows or dies. The antis are smirking at the current state of play in the firearms industry. Who’s going to wipe that smile off their face?

comments

  1. avatar BLoving says:

    For far too many Americans, the choice is often:
    A. Buy a gun to defend self/family.
    B. Eat this week.
    It was that realization that convinced me to stop being such a snob and looking down my nose at choices like HiPoint, the S&W SD9, SCCY, Taurus PT111, etc.
    Poor folk need protection too.
    🤠

    1. avatar kevin says:

      You’re right- add to the list police trade-in surplus guns. It’s not like most cops wear these things out practicing, and a Glock or Smith with extra mags and night sights can be had for less than four-large. A Sig for a little more. The added benefit of “a cop once carried it” could be a selling point, at least to me.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        I have a cop carried M10. Lot of outside wear from the holster and getting in and out of a cruiser. But it locks up tight and shoots like a new gun.

        I also have the S&W Sigma and a surplus Makarov. All three of these guns would serve the budget minded person quite well.

        1. avatar dph says:

          Used guns and police trade-ins don’t help the industry, LEOs are going to get new guns regardless of what happens to the old ones. The problem is exactly what the OP said, for many families the problem is food & rent versus protection. That was the reason I didn’t get into firearms until I was in my late 40’s, life sometimes dictates your choices, but now I’m in the other category, I have enough guns and ammo for the zombie (Democrat) apocalypse.

        2. avatar MarkPA says:

          dph: “Used guns and police trade-ins don’t help the industry . . . ” Your point is well-taken; however, I think you have grasped too tightly to the OP’s thesis.

          I am not, first and foremost, concerned with the financial health of gun manufacturers. Instead, I’m concerned with the health of our tradition of civilian gun-ownership. If that augurs for manufacturers’ profits, that’s fine.

          The overwhelming issue is the height of the cumulative barriers to entry to gun-ownership. NSSF might help by advertising that “guns are not just for OFWGs anymore”. Yet, that will only serve to create an awareness. Much more must follow.

          Somehow, I think the PotG must find ways to out-reach into the community at large. One small example is scoutmasters teaching Boyscouts marksmanship; we need some sort of adult equivalent.

          Chicago is the antithesis of what we must overcome. Not one public gun range in the city. Most large cities have few ranges and most of these are pretty expensive. Anti-gun municipal politicians want to keep things this way. Keep the expenses high for FFLs and ranges and their constituents won’t be able to reach the gun-culture at a price they can afford. Maybe we need to think about a program analogous to church busses; i.e., we arrange for regular bus trips to a suburban range.

          A place to start is gun-safety classes for adults, adolescents and children in inner-city and suburban community centers.

          Even in the Won’t-Issue States we can start with a gun-in-the-home program. Based on an inexpensive shotgun and a personal-protection-in-the-home course.

      2. avatar MT says:

        “Four-large” means $4000.

    2. avatar achmed says:

      Well your point is valid about not looking down the Taurus or whatever other “meh” gun – but non-gun owning Americans are not that way because of poverty.

      Also selling gun ownership based on self-defense is a limited market. Most of the country is pretty safe. Personally I have a carry permit but a completely impartial observer would look at crime is most US neighborhoods and not bother. The gun industry should focus on shooting as fun and focus on the quintessentially American aspect of gun ownership in terms of self-reliance. .

    3. avatar Roymond says:

      What an on-target first comment!

      Most of the people I know who don’t have guns would like one (or more), but you’re right — food and shelter come first.

      I only became a gun owner due to ‘inheriting’ from my dad when he decided he wasn’t going to be pulling any more triggers. I’ve acquired a few more as gifts and some carefully purchased — carefully as in tweaking the budget to make it possible. I would love to buy three right now that I have on my list, but it probably won’t be happening as I just inherited about $9k in debt when the parents’ trust ‘fell’ on me.

    4. avatar Ansel Hazen says:

      Nail on head. I watched a Gunbroker Auction all weekend of something with no reserve and a buy it now $200 less than what the gun sells for new. Enough money to pay for it in the sock drawer. Even planning to sell my currently owned 9mm version to fund the move to .40 S&W I couldn’t justify hitting the buy it now button with things the way they are financially. It’s the middle of the winter, only January and I had to choose between keeping the house warm and a genuine bargain.

      1. avatar Leighton Cavendish says:

        don’t do .40…is a dying caliber

        1. avatar Sharpshooter says:

          Most popular cop caliber

    5. avatar Hugo says:

      Very true. Some of those companies could use some help making business decisions. I bought a Hi Point carbine and was impressed by its reliability and accuracy for the $275 I paid for it. I emailed the company and suggested they make a version that would be compliant with NY’s idiotic SAFE act. All they would have to do is change the pistol grip to something less evil. It would be a really nice inexpensive option for home defense. The answer was no..we have no plans to modify our design. Lots of potential customers lost. Silly. Ruger was smart with their new PC carbine. They have a separate version with no threaded barrel for NewYorkistan.

      1. avatar Dave in Fairfax says:

        Hi-Point isn’t a huge company. Why would they invest money in re-tooling to make a product that the dickwad politicians in NY would just make illegal as soon as they can. On top of that they’d still be taking flack from all the elitist gun owners who love to hate on them. It would be a niche product with only a limited time to sell it, and large production costs.

  2. avatar MamaLiberty says:

    I’d love to see the gun manufacturers get together and set up a voluntary training program to address the new/want to be gun owners directly and competently. The NRA had an only fair training program to start with, and they have screwed it up so badly it may never recover. The NRA needs serious competition in this. Training programs and manufacturers, and all other parts of the American gun culture would benefit.

    1. avatar YARB0892 says:

      Odd question, but it’s something I’ve been mulling for quite some time, since I became an NRA Instructor in fact.

      What if someone- possibly me, or anyone willing to put in the work- were to start a firearms training charity? Give basic firearms safety, marksmanship, among others to locals for free? Think it’d work? I don’t think where we are now- rural/military Missouri- is the right market, but a larger area towards STL or a city larger than a postage stamp might be?

  3. avatar Ralph says:

    The firearms industry is quite small. There is only one reason why it has any societal impact at all, and that reason is the NRA. The NRA, with only 5 million members, is also small, but it has been very successful. Which is why the left and the usual TTAG tr0lls hate it.

    Sure, the NSSF should wave it’s magic wand and convince all non-owners to go out and buy a gun. Unfortunately, there is no magic wand. So how does a tiny organization like the NSSF, with a very limited budget, reach a hundred million non-owners?

    1. avatar MamaLiberty says:

      The most logical way is for those of us who currently own guns to promote this. The manufacturers shouldn’t have to float the whole thing, by any means, but leadership is required. Setting up a voluntary program shouldn’t be that difficult, but ordinary people must step up and make it happen after that.

      The NRA has become a net liability on almost every front. They need serious competition to mend their ways…

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        A “net liability?” Oh, Mama, you’ve drunk the tr0lls’ Kool Aid.

        If it wasn’t for the NRA, there wouldn’t be a gun left in America. The NRA is the only thing standing between us and Australian-style “gun control.” That is a painful fact of life, which is why the Harvey Weinstein’s of the world hate the NRA with a white-hot burning hatred.

        Because of its unrelenting propaganda campaign, the Democrats and the radical left are expecting people like you turn on the NRA. I just hope that they don’t have your number. We have to hang together, or we will hang separately.

        1. avatar MamaLiberty says:

          Oh Ralph. I have absolutely no obligation to support any person or organization that stabs people – including their own paid members – in the back. And the NRA is far from being the only option.

          See this for some well documented background.
          http://jpfo.org/filegen-n-z/nraletter.htm

        2. avatar Remmi300blk says:

          Stop saying “oh” and then each others names. It’s dirrty.

  4. avatar Muhammad says:

    We also need to bring in more ethnic minorities into the 2A fold, many people harbor old world thinking that gun ownership will cause the govt to knock on their door. Lots of room in the chinese, Indian, middle eastern, and even African American culture to increase ownership rates.

    1. avatar achmed says:

      This x1000. My name’s not Achmed but agree with this person wholeheartedly. It’s part of being American but we have a lot of XOFWGs – xenophobic old flat white guys.

      1. avatar jsallison says:

        Hmm, I haven’t been flat in quite some time. I am in shape though, round being a shape…

        1. avatar Scoutino says:

          As RF says, that what doesn’t grow, dies. Since I don’t see myself growing up anymore, my only way to keep from dying is growing around the equator.

      2. avatar Geoff PR says:

        “This x1000. My name’s not Achmed…”

        Curious, then why do you use achmed, then?

        1. avatar Big Bill says:

          Maybe, because a lot of people know who Achmed the Dead Terrorist is.

        2. avatar Sam I Am says:

          A terrifying terrorist.

        3. avatar Scoutino says:

          Silence!

    2. avatar Remmi300blk says:

      ^^This

      It could blow a huge door open to more firearms ownership by busting a bunch of stereotypes about who gun owners are.

  5. avatar tiger says:

    117 million on the fence? Doubt it. The industry is going to consolidate. Just like the airlines, auto, & defense industry. Demand & culture are not radically changing. About the only real change they can make is to increase advertising & marketing outside the traditional outdoor /hunting/ gun world sphere. More People magazine & less Field & Stream. Backing sports shooting & less focus on hunting & defense use.

    1. avatar jsallison says:

      How about televised shooting competitions that aren’t soap operas with guns. I’mna looking at you, Top Shot.

      1. avatar YARB0892 says:

        NOIR for example?

  6. avatar Gman says:

    I don’t agree that there is a relatively “small” gun buying population. I also see far more new gun owners at the LGS and range than ever before. Of course that is strictly anecdotal but there is a trend of new gun buyers. The real problem the gun industry has is that they are not selling iPhones. Their product does not need software upgrades. There are no batteries which can’t be replaced by the average Joe. They don’t loose there “cool” factor. And they design them to last a very, very, long time. Most of us don’t buy a new gun to replace a failed or older version. We buy one to do a job and expect it to do that job long enough to be passed on to our progeny and theirs and theirs. We (mostly) don’t drop them into puddles or toilets and don’t maltreat them in any truly harmful manner. Another problem the gun industry has, not as a whole, but more as individual companies, is that we are loyal customers. And that’s not so good for companies who we might deem unworthy of our monies. I guess it’s like a Ford or Chevy or Dodge thing. And that doesn’t bode well for the company that fails to make us happy. Can anyone say Colt?

    1. avatar DaveR says:

      “I also see far more new gun owners at the LGS and range than ever before. Of course that is strictly anecdotal”

      Anecdotal AND speculative. Unless you interviewed all of them you have no way of knowing if they’re new or merely inexperienced. Plenty of the latter among current gun owners, unfortunatly

      “The real problem the gun industry has is that they are not selling iPhones. Their product does not need software upgrades. ”

      Bingo. Until new models and advancments come along, guns don’t become obsolete. Therefore, the gun industry will forever be driven and sustained by people who can never have too many…so collectors and hobbyests

      1. avatar Big Bill says:

        I can go to pretty much any gun show and see many tables dedicated to the AR platform, but they don’t sell guns. Just “stuff” to go on guns others already own.
        Maybe the gun makers need to expand into “authorized” add-ons to their guns.

  7. avatar jwm says:

    I don’t buy those poll results. Too damn many guns being sold for the 8 years of barry and the fear filled run up to hillary’s supposed crowning to be just a few ofwg’s doing all that buying.

    I live in the liberal heartland of the bay area, CA. Every time I visit a range here it’s crowded with all manner of folk. Young, old, different races. Women on their own buying and using their guns.

    Don’t piss on my shoes and tell me its raining.

    1. avatar tiger says:

      Who has more customers? Apple or Glock? The numbers are about right. Nobody is buying guns every two years like they do iphones.

    2. avatar neiowa says:

      PEW? It’s pew because it’s a left leaning BS organization. There is NO polling results that can be relied on regarding firearms ownership (of anything).

      Conduct a poll where you ask if you lie to pollsters- 217% do 193% of the time.

    3. avatar Barnbwt says:

      How else are we so poor and uneducated, and barefoot if not by spending all our money on guns?

  8. avatar Ugly95 says:

    It took me 16 months to get my first pistol in New Jersey. No that is not a typo. 16 months with background checks, interviews, finger prints, character references and this was even before I could have a NICS check run. 9 million people live in New Jersey plenty have not gone through the red tape and won’t to get a gun.

  9. avatar Aven says:

    I think the firearms industry need to take a lesson from Honda in the way they changed the perception of people who ride motorcycles. Their campaign of “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” changed the way people felt about motorcycle riders from outlaws to Mr. and Mrs. American family.

    1. avatar BLoving says:

      “You meet the nicest people at the gun range”
      … I like it.
      So how do we prove that?
      To the small gun shop owners, the gun range owners, to everyone who sees themself as the Typical American Gun Owner: try to put our best foot forward. Pick up the water bottles with snuff spit off the counters and shelves. Wear a clean shirt without any violent/offensive imagery or slogans. Take down the Klan/Nazi paraphernalia. Keep the restroom clean. At least TRY to seem friendly, helpful and outgoing and above all – if what you’re about to say to the customer is not a verifiable fact, make it clear that it is just an opinion or else do your research beforehand.
      🤠

      1. avatar clst says:

        What you said! Clean up the stores and start selling a lifestyle instead of just guns.

  10. avatar Barnbwt says:

    Many folks are pragmatic, and simply know they don’t have a place to shoot/practice, and are unlikely to need one for defense. A reasonable judgment call (if somewhat risky) is to forgo ownership.

  11. avatar tfunk says:

    Umm, between 20-25% of the US population is under 18, and therefor ineligible to purchase ANY firearm…so that’s about 66-81 million people who are off the board as of right now. So you’re left with about 250 million eligible to purchase firearms, and around half (most likely more) of those already do.

    And if a “super owner”, supposedly only 3% of the US population, is someone who owns 8 or more guns…then everyone I know who owns guns is a super owner. That’s pretty unlikely, statistically speaking.

    1. avatar Andrew Lias says:

      That is an extremely valid point. I wonder how surveys taken of other topics that are age dependent (say alcohol as an example) vs guns are spun in the news. E.g. do they include the ineligible populations in their quotes.

    2. avatar MamaLiberty says:

      Don’t forget to subtract these other categories of the adult population:

      All of the “prohibited persons,” for whatever reason – including the millions in jails and prisons.
      All of those who are severely disabled, including the totally blind. (Now, they may actually own a gun or three, but we can’t look to them to promote gun ownership much.)
      All of those living the last part of their lives in nursing homes, etc.

      And, of course, all of those who are dead, yet manage to “vote” in various places… 🙂 You never know who all is included in these bogus “polls.”

  12. avatar TX19Skeeter47 says:

    Over simplification (I admit) re: obstacle to purchasing a firearm by new shooters but when observing potential buyers at my local Cabela’s, Bass Pro, etc., cost may be a prohibitive factor. Great interest & desire to become engaged for all of the typical reasons (defense, hunting, etc.) but the whispered words among family members is “…we can’t afford it” (“it” being a quality, good-fit-to-the-customer firearm and lack of assistance to respond to the question “…where can I go to test fire the pistol (rifle) before I make the final decision”.
    Thanks for listening.

  13. avatar Ed says:

    “…the first rule of sales. Make it easy to buy.”

    You couldn’t imagine the amount of revenue I would loose yearly because of the egregious wait times that would frequently happen when doing 4473 call-ins. 99.9% of the time the people pass no problem…but after 20 minutes waiting people start to wonder if maybe they did something wrong and the SWAT team is gonna roll in and scoop them up. I bet I averaged 30 cancelled sales a year over nothing more than excessive wait times for erronious background checks that do nothing but impede buisness. So, 30 x the $400 average sale is no joke…except to the FBI and ATF.
    You REALLY want to save the firearm industry? Get ALL restrictions lifted on supressors and repeal the Brady bill!

  14. avatar Hank says:

    Latest poll confirms: Hillary is going to win the election. The only question is how big she will win.

    Never really trusted polls to begin with, but this last election really put the dagger into most, if not all polls as far as I’m concerned. You can skew a poll to make it look anyway you want. Hell, a bunch of them aren’t just skewed, just straight made up.

  15. avatar Joe R. says:

    BS flag thrown.

    There’s whole states that ‘make up’ for other whole states, but the ownership and buying ‘churn’ continues bigly.

    It’s funny how, in evil POS (D) blue states, dead people count on the census, and vote, but they can’t seem to find any gun owners (while bitching about their Safe Act not scaring enough gun owners into forfeiture).

    If the “industry” as a whole is hurting, it’s just because there was a pile-on growth spurt in advance of what the industry bet might have been a felonious Hillocrap win. I THINK THIS WAS PURPOSEFUL TOO. “THEY” CAN BEAT US BY CAUSING A DROUGHT, OR SIMILAR GLUT. Never give in.

    Ban the evil POS (D), AND BUY GUNS AND AMMO.

  16. avatar Brian in CA says:

    Those poll numbers are bunk. I was at the club range Sunday for about three hours (far longer than normal for me). About 40 people came in after me, and I left long before closing. You could have conducted an anonymous poll of that group with a question starting with “do you or someone in your household own a gun?” and 100% of them would have said “NO!”

    Brexit polling, look it up.

    1. avatar Jim says:

      Anecdotes are not data friend.

      1. avatar jwtaylor says:

        Yes, they are. Anecdotes are data points. That’s what it means.

      2. avatar Big Bill says:

        How are polls not anecdotal?
        All they are are answers to questions, with nothing to back them up.
        I always thought that was the very essence of “anecdotal.”

    2. avatar Dave in Fairfax says:

      Polls are distributed by unicorns. I know literally no one who owns a gun who would tell someone they didn’t know that they owned one. I know all mine drowned in a horrible dry land boating accident. Except for the ones stolen by those lousy tree rats. Pew study my left hind foot.

  17. avatar johnny go lightly says:

    Be very cautious about touching a woman if you choose to instruct them. NRA recommends not touching a student unless absolutely clear why/ how it will be done. Make sure others are around to provide eyes on.

  18. avatar Chris T from KY says:

    I know it would be very difficult but everyone who has children needs to agitate for a shooting program in their school. Everything has to start small. It can be BB guns at first. Or it can be bow and arrow. How about a sling shot or sling bow class?

    Guns, ammunition, a gun safe, that cost money for a school.

    Cost is always a factor when setting up a new class and maintaining it. As parents we must demand this if we want our children taught about 2A. The majority are government schooled, not home schooled.

    The second amendment is about “arms” not just about guns. Civil war reeactors have set up a camp in local schools here for a week’s worth of classes.

    There are ways to do this but YOU are going to have to spend your time on this as well. I’m in the process of doing this myself here in Kentucky.

    1. avatar ATFAgentBob says:

      Or do what I did. Go buy your kids a bb gun at age 6 then a youth size 22lr at age 7. Then take them shooting with you. Let your kids explain guns are fun! Oh and expect a call or two from the school and perhaps a visit from the guidance counselor or CPS personnel depending how whacko the teacher is.

  19. avatar John Boch says:

    “As much as I hate to admit it, gun control advocates are right about one thing: the U.S. firearms industry depends on a relatively small number of gun owners buying more guns”

    Robert, you’re seldom wrong. But the numbers don’t match your assertion here.

    In Illinois, we (regrettably) register gun owners. Illinois saw well over 50% growth in gun owners during Obama’s eight years, moving from 1.2M to over 2M. Those people didn’t go to all the trouble to get that Firearms Owners ID card (and spend the money for fees) for no reason.

    While Illinois might not be a bellwether state in everything, the explosion of gun owners in Obama’s time in office does certainly drive a stake in the heart to the MSM fake news narrative that fewer people are buying more guns. What’s more, the growth has continued, unabated, with Trump’s inauguration.

    The number of gun owners nationally might not be growing at the blistering pace demonstrated with hard numbers in Illinois, but it surely is not contracting. It’s growing. And those new people are buying guns and ammo… in record numbers. Last year was the second biggest year for gun purchases – ever.

    How big? Three times as many guns were sold last year compared to 2001.

    Twice as many as 2008.

    John

    1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      Illinois’ fantastic growth in gun ownership (as measured by FOID cards) was driven by the passage of our Concealed Carry law which went into effect in 2014. The ability to carry suddenly gave a lot of people good reason to tool up.

      I think the moral of the story is that further advancement in carry statutes around the country – from may(not) issue to shall issue to Constitutional carry to national reciprocity – along with reducing the number of prohibited areas, would do a lot to create new gun owners.

  20. avatar Jim Bullock says:

    The first rule is make it easy to buy, yet all the “common sense” “safety” proposals make it harder.

    It’s like that’s the point. It’s just “common sense.”

    That interested non-owner statistic is – er – interesting. So, maybe 1/3 of people in the U S are stopped from doing something they want, just by the friction. Seems kinda obnoxious to restrain 100,000,000 people who have done nothing wrong.

  21. avatar Carl B. says:

    Political instability and crime rates will sell more firearms than anything else ever will.

  22. avatar ATFAgentBob says:

    People as a whole don’t have the greatest future time orientation (we don’t plan for tomorrow too well). A gun purchase isn’t always a well thought out and planned decision sometimes it’s an impulse triggered by external forces (political strife, financial insecurity, financial improvement, criminal action, and so on). Thing is we are losing a few of these external factors with gun legislation on the docket being mostly positive. Now we may see an increase in sales as more folks see more money in their pockets as tax season hits and tax cuts take effect.

  23. avatar Cloudbuster says:

    I’m not sure this is really a problem.

    What percentage of the population
    * Buys alpine ski equipment
    * Buys snowmobiles
    * Buys dirt bikes
    * Buys tennis rackets
    * Buys golf clubs
    * Buys hockey equipment

    33% of the population seems like a damn fine market segment to me.

    1. avatar Big Bill says:

      The companies who make those items also make other things.
      Ruger only makes guns. Same for S&W. Same for most gun makers. They specialize.
      Just as one example, if you want to buy a dirt bike, you go to a showroom to see what they have available. You have to pass a lot of other bikes that appeal to a lot of other people than dirt bikers. (As an aside, Kawasaki, who makes dirt bikes, along with a lot of other bikes, makes heavy dirt moving equipment, and ships. Big ships. Bikes are, as a part of their bottom line, a side line.)
      Another example: you want to buy alpine skis? Go to a sports shop and pass a lot of other stuff with the same logo, appealing to a lot of people who do other sports.

  24. avatar tdiinva says:

    The two biggest factors that increase the number of guns owned are income and age. Rich old folks own a lot of guns because we can and we generally hang on to the ones have. The average Joe is hard pressed to buy a pistol, shotgun and a rifle. Anything beyond that is way down on the wants list. The antis stereotypical gun owner is not the poverty stricken gap toothed hillbilly of their imagination. Gun owners have generally more money and more education than the general population.

  25. avatar MilitantCentrist says:

    If I could move the whole industry with my hand, I would devote fewer resources to developing the next dumb hunting accessory or Glock clone and more to Make Ammo Affordable Again (#MAAA!!!)

    1. avatar Raoul Duke says:

      Easy, I know how to make ammo cheaper….

      -End the import bans on “steel core” ammo and real AP ammo in general

      -End the ban on Chinese ammo and fight to uphold the Russians to continue exporting ammo to us

      -Reduce restrictions stateside to promote new companies to open and allow current companies to lower their prices

      Fixed it for you

  26. avatar former water walker says:

    “Make it EZ to buy”…funny but my last 10guns purchased I used layaway. No muss no fuss. Also funny I live in Illinois but do all my business in Indiana save transfers. ALL the Illinois dealers think their shite doesn’t stink or I can’t easily drive 5 miles or have the internet. I didn’t think the FOID was a big deal until I shopped in Indiana either…I’ve never had any problem with some 20BG checks.Only lack of bucks…and I’m planning on buying more this year. Oh I’m with Ralph-the NRA is the big dog whether you like ’em or not!

  27. avatar David says:

    People only purchase things they need or want (or are forced to by govt!). As someone who didn’t start purchasing guns until I was in my 30s I didn’t have a desire to buy guns because I wasn’t informed about why that would be a good idea. It wasn’t until I started thinking about how I could protect my family that I began researching the subject. Then I couldn’t get one fast enough. We have to plant the idea in non-gunowners that it might be a good idea to have a gun for protection and fun. I’ve never met anyone who was given proper instruction in shooting who didn’t like it. We have to educate, debunk myths and mystery about guns and change the culture to normalize guns in the eyes of non-gunowners. As its said, “Culture eats strategy for lunch!”

  28. avatar TheSophist says:

    Well, the illogical path would be to adopt what the Obamacare folks did. Apparently, according to the Supreme Court, the Federal Government can mandate that individuals purchase stuff they don’t necessarily want. So just make gun ownership mandatory, or pay a penalty/tax. There is honestly more precedent (and historical support) for mandatory gun ownership than there is for mandatory health insurance.

    But that’s not what we’re really talking about.

    Seems to me there are many good ideas floated, but the one thing that the industry MUST think about and do something about is to change the *culture* around firearms.

    When was the last time you saw a citizen using a legal firearm in a movie or a TV show for something other than hunting? I can’t think of one. Not one instance, though to be fair, I don’t watch a lot of TV and movies. Still, to be unable to think of a single situation in popular media of a citizen using his legal weapon for self-defense is incredible.

    In virtually every case a firearm is shown, it is in the hands of either a criminal or a government employee: police and military. The subliminal (and not so subliminal) message is that the only people who own guns are criminals or cops. It’s mentally difficult to cross that gap for someone who wasn’t raised in the gun culture from youth. (I wasn’t.)

    Gun companies, NSSF, NAR, the industry as a whole needs to be thinking about turning incidents like this one into movies and TV shows: http://www.guns.com/2017/03/17/cell-phone-video-released-of-armed-citizen-shooting-deputys-attacker-video/

    Or the young Oklahoma mother who shot an intruder: http://abcnews.go.com/US/okla-woman-shoots-kills-intruder911-operators-shoot/story?id=15285605

    You can’t tell me that story can’t be made into a Lifetime movie pretty easily and cheaply.

    For that matter, it wouldn’t hurt to work with TV production companies to include gun ownership as a normal, everyday part of something. For example, The Middle is one of the most popular sitcoms about a middle class family in Indiana; it would have been great to casually, no big deal, show Mike the father with his gun collection.

    Now, I completely 110% realize that working with Hollywood anti-gun libs is going to be very, very difficult. But money talks. These are people who covered for Harvey Weinstein and other sexual predators for YEARS because of money. If backers wanted to fund the development of a sitcom, on the condition that guns be shown as normal for normal American families, some producer somewhere is going to give it a good listen.

    What about reality TV? Like or hate the genre, it’s here to stay, and it has a real impact on the culture. See, e.g., Kardashians. Plus, there are dozens of cable networks with a desperate need for content (that advertisers would pay to advertise on). Top Shot and shows like that is a good start, but why not some SpikeTV series on “Stories of Armed Self-Defense”? Why not try to get Food Network interested in some kind of “hunting and cooking” show? Get TLC to do a reality show about a family of competition shooters? Why the hell not try?

    Colion Noir and NRATV are wonderful, but the NRA should be spending big bucks trying to get him on a mainstream cable network.

    My point is, the industry has to get far smarter about marketing. A big big part of that has to be to try and change the culture and perception around firearms.

    Just my $0.02

    1. avatar BLoving says:

      The Scene: a gas station convenience store, late at night.
      Young, thug type with his good pulled over his head barges in and waves a gun around demanding the cash.
      Clerk responds by grabbing the pistol on the shelf under the register and fires two shots into the robbers chest. The end.

      Sounds like a pretty boring show to me. Nice ending though.

      1. avatar TheSophist says:

        A bit more creatively…

        The Scene: a gas station convenience store, late at night.

        Young, thug type with his good pulled over his head barges in and waves a gun around demanding the cash. Starts shooting people.

        Customer in store pulls out her weapon and puts down young thug.

        Customer happens to be a PA resident who had stopped for gas in New Jersey.

        Rest of movie is about the legal struggles of said customer. Shaneen Allen can have a cameo role or two.

    2. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “When was the last time you saw a citizen using a legal firearm in a movie or a TV show for something other than hunting? I can’t think of one.”

      Please.

      Hollywood action movies are full of guns, used by the good and the evil. And when the good guys win, as they usually do, they save the day and get the girl. Or guy. Or other.

      All of that makes an impression on the biggest audience for movies, the young adult crowd.

      Hollywood is our very best buddy for gun rights…

      1. avatar clst says:

        The point is that almost all the Hollywood Good Guys With a Gun, are cops or other authority figures. I can’t recall any non-cop (secret agent etc) GGWAG movie hero since they quit making westerns.

        1. avatar TheSophist says:

          Exactly!

  29. avatar MilitantCentrist says:

    If you love someone – or even like them – take them shooting. If you can, not even “Would you like to learn to shoot sometime?” but “Come to the range with me Saturday. First box is on me.”

    And for the love of God, please start them on a .22, not on center fire.

    1. avatar DesertDave says:

      .22, the gateway firearm! The first box is free …. sounds hauntingly familiar. Hooked for life!

      /Sarc (for those that have no sarcdar)

  30. avatar emfourty gasmask says:

    id like to see some actual innovation, not more meme calibers like .224 valk that only servers to separate people from their money while proving useful for less than 1% of people in the industry

  31. avatar Excedrine says:

    I trust polls as much as I trust politicians, which about as far as I can fucking throw them; and unfortunately for me, it will never be nearly far enough away!

  32. avatar DesertDave says:

    None of my friends/relatives that own guns have just one. It is either none or 5 to 15, often many more. Heck I had 12 by the age a 12. Generally guns are not something you buy and sell or have to replace like cars, trucks and electronics so they tend to accumulate.

    For those that have none it is generally the female spouse that is afraid of guns that is the stopping point. Then there are the people that it really isn’t on their radar at all. They may not have a gun, or skis or fishing equipment. They just have no interest in the sport, let alone the very concept of self defense. Just not in their universe.

    I am constantly surprised by those that do own and shoot as a hobby however. If I had to guess, I’d say that 50% or more of the population owns firearms and they lie to the pollsters, who wouldn’t, I sure would.

  33. avatar Jross says:

    Take new people shooting.

    The end.

  34. avatar Jeff says:

    Television ads reach and influence a lot of people. A few years ago the New Jersey Fish & Wildlife ran a few commercials aimed at children and parents. The campaign was titled “Take Me Fishing”. After the commercials aired, my fishing buddies and I were contacted by several parents whose children wanted to go fishing, but the parents had never been fishing and they wanted to know how and where to start.

    Perhaps the NSSF can run a “Take Me Shooting” television ad campaign.

  35. avatar Mike J says:

    I’m not sure that the firearms industry needs saving. The executives are just unhappy that they’re not making as much money as they did when Obama was threatening to impose common sense gun control regulations take all of our guns away. Obviously, to bring the good old days back, the firearms industry executives need another Communist president and enough (real) Republicans in Congress to block any new gun legislation.

  36. avatar Det. Nick Valentine says:

    “That three percent figure has historical resonance; three percent of proto-Americans were part of the anti-British Minutemen militia”

    That is actually a bunch of non-sense based on incorrect date/reading of the date from the period concerning the Continental Army. Around 6.5% is the lower end of accurate estimates of the population that fought for Revolution.

  37. avatar JS says:

    I think gun owners do a terrible job of telling other people about our sport. Many of us stamp our feet and yell its a goddamn right thats being infringed on, others try to ignore the non firearm owner. I liked the comment above that Honda said “You meet the nicest people on a Honda”. They helped to de-demonize motorcycle riding back then and the sport took off.

    We should try something similar. Hold toy and food drives sponsored by the NRA, NSSF or GOA.
    Make it easy to go to a gun range. It is a pita to go to a gun range you have never been to before. How about a lane/area for first time shooters. Many times I have to go to a trailer or separate building to pay my range fees which is not marked.
    Offer free/intro range days. Cmon ranges, make it easy for people to come out.
    Set aside a new person area, be nice and gentle on the newcomer. Half of the RM’s I have run across have one volume, shrieking. Dont shriek at the new people, we want them (and me) to come back.
    We need to realize that cultivating the newcomer may be what actually saves shooting for all of us.

  38. avatar Sam I Am says:

    Let’s do a bit of mind game. First, we accept that the US population is ~325 million. Then, we accept the number of gun owners at about 100 million (simple numbers, here). From these two data points, we conclude that 1/3 of the total US population owns a gun (or more, but let’s say it is just one). And this is where all the numbers get hinky.

    To begin at the beginning, the population figure is not as clear, or meaningful, as it seems. Not the ~325 million, but the segmentation of the total population. How many of the ~325 million are adults (age eligible to purchase a firearm)? How many of the ~325 million are minors (age ineligible to purchase a firearm)? Simply put, just how large is the potential gun-buying demographic?

    Next to consider is whether the rate of change between non-adult and adult is sufficient to produce a growing market. Is that demographic arguing against the growth of potential customers for any item for sale? I.E. is the population of consumers expanding or contracting on the whole? If it is contracting, even the smart phone manufacturers are facing a purchasing wall.

    So, what can we conclude about the potential market for new gun purchases? With the data presented in the article/posting, not much. But to conclude that 2/3ds of the population (or even one additional third) is an untapped market seems a bit fanciful. To make anything of the consumer market for guns, we must know with near certainty precisely how many purchase-eligible persons make up the buying pool. At the moment, we do not have sufficient information to really say whether or not the gun manufacturers (while ignoring international sellers) are “aiming in the wrong direction”. This sets up POTG for gross misjudgement about the mechanics and politics of gun ownership.

  39. avatar Bersa Bob says:

    A lot of great posts.

    BOTTOM LINE DROP THE PRICES

  40. avatar Roymond says:

    Thinking of the NRA, it’s time to write letters once again calling for LaPierre’s salary to be reduced by half a million and that money put to helping the budget-challenged to buy their first firearm. Even at $500/gun, that would be a thousand new owners.

    Better yet, make it a challenge, using the $500k as matching funds and ask people to donate, and make it two thousand new owners a year.

    If they wanted to be creative, the program could focus on people in the three cities at the top of the violent crime list.

  41. avatar Tim says:

    Consolidate product lines (don’t need 10 variations of 1911)
    Introduce more 9mm and 22lr guns to bring in new and young shooters
    Make something new, not just repackaged
    Promote shooting sports, we should be live streaming matches
    Listen to young consumers
    Better marketing with less faux tier one mall ninja and more portraying guns as the fun they are

  42. avatar Steve in TX says:

    Guns in McDonald’s happy meals instead of a toy! Seriously, price and ease of purchase. If a gun could be bought on Amazon or thrown in a shopping cart at Home Depot and u could get one for $100 or less, you would have slot more gun owners. Most consumer purchases are spontaneous, and guns are expensive for a spontaneous purchase.

  43. avatar VerendusAudeo says:

    Honestly, I’d just like the firearms industry to bring back high quality products. There’s a reason pre-64 Winchesters and pinned and recessed S&W’s fetch such a hefty price compared with modern crappola. It’s the difference between truly great and good enough. I have a crescent wrench made in Jamestown, New York circa 1937, and I also have a Winchester 97 made in 1941. They just don’t make ’em like that anymore. Just as I put my wrench over anything currently sold at Home Depot, I’d take my 97 over any modern 870 or 590. Space age polymers and alloys have nothing on good old fashioned American steel.

  44. avatar passthesalt says:

    I think a big problem you got is that most advertised guns outside of mundane shotguns, hunting rifles, 22’s, and pocket guns are edge pushers against different states AWB laws. As a result you get a lot news stories about how guns owners have to keep modding thier guns to keep up with the encroach of gun law for a new gun owner that prospect is intimidating and discouraging. And to make matters worse most rifles that don’t run the edge seem to sell for a premium due to thier unpopularity with main stream gun culture which wants as much as they can get. The solution? Stop pushing the edge make more offerings that are well inside the terms of existing gun law.

    Think about it a sub $400 featureless, fixed mag, clip fed, 5.56, self loader would be a gateway out of the mundane handguns and shotguns without owners haveing to sweat constantly tracking the laws and suddenly you have a lot more rifle owners who might care when the goal posts start shifting again

  45. avatar El Duderino says:

    And those collectors are the least risky of anyone. They have too much to lose.

  46. avatar Nelson says:

    PEW’s numbers are correct??

    Yieah… if you believe NICS is solely indicative of sales numbers… and gun owners are the types to volunteer info.

    xD

    ‘scientific’ extrapolation based on a few sampled numbers, does not mean it’s the whole of reality.

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