gun store counter pistol
Courtesy NSSF
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By Larry Keane

The past two years have witnessed gun sales the likes of which have never been seen before. It’s not just red states either. The totals include big numbers in blue states already home to some of the strictest gun control laws in the country.

With the midterm elections less than 10 months away, elected officials supporting more gun control could be in for a rude awakening given the shifting Second Amendment support among their voting constituencies.

Blue Wave Gun Sales

Law-abiding Americans took firm control over their personal safety and Second Amendment rights in 2020 and recorded 21 million background checks for gun sales. That number dipped only slightly in 2021 for a total of 18.5 million. Those numbers include more than 8.4 million first-time gun buyers in 2020 and more than 3.2 million in the first half of 2021 alone.

National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) verifications weren’t just processed in red, pro-Second Amendment leaning states, however. Some of the biggest figures in the previous 12 months came from blue states, typically home of strict gun control laws.

Of the seven states that processed more than one million NICS checks in the last year, two have Democratic governors, Democratic state legislatures and strict gun control laws. According to NSSF’s adjusted FBI NICS data, Illinois led the way among background checks processed in 2021 totaling more than 8.4 million checks for the year. An exception to most, that total includes checks run and rerun for Illinois Firearm Ownership Identification (FOID) cards and Concealed Carry Licenses (CCLs). California came in next with nearly 1.5 million checks run.

In the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., officials there processed almost 13,000 NICS checks for a firearm transfer. That number follows more than 11,000 during 2020’s buying spree, compared to less than 6,000 in 2019 before COVID shutdowns, riots and calls to defund the police escalated.

Even smaller blue states, by population, experienced high marks. More than 277,000 background checks were run in Connecticut. That’s the highest number since 2016’s 316,00 checks when the prospects of an antigun Democratic-controlled White House were possible.

“(Lawmakers) will frequently talk about Connecticut as the pinnacle of what gun control should be, but Connecticut residents don’t feel safe in their communities,” said Holly Sullivan. She’s with the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, a gun rights group that saw membership grow 40 percent to 43,000 members in the past two years. In a state with a Democratic governor, state legislator and strict gun control laws, “Connecticut residents continue to prove they want access to firearms,” Sullivan added.

Those sentiments reverberate from sea to shining sea. In California, P.J. Gomez founded the Latino Rifle Association and the group has already added several hundred members. “I don’t believe self-defense…should be exclusive to people on the right politically,” Gomez said.

A New Reality

Gun control groups saw the prospects of a President Joe Biden administration and Democratic control of Congress a year ago and salivated at the chance to push through more federal gun control. The American people quickly told them they had other ideas.

New data show a clear majority – 52 percent – of self-described Democrats either personally own a firearm or live in a household with someone who owns a gun. National polling repeatedly shows gun control losing support.

That new reality has been a backstop against gun control efforts on the federal level and was realized quickly. President Biden was forced to withdraw two high-profile nominees, including paid gun control lobbyist David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), after he couldn’t persuade even all U.S. Senate Democrats to throw their support behind them.

The other was Saule Omarova, who testified she wouldn’t rule out another Operation Choke Point. She was nominated to become Comptroller of the Currency before withdrawing her name from consideration. Regarding gun control legislation, it’s been all misses as Americans rebuffed any Congressional action.

Gun control groups across the board have been vocally disappointed in their failures to impose more gun control restrictions while still ignoring the criminals responsible for the surge in criminal gun violence. Americans continue to tune them out and turn to their local firearm retailers for new purchases.

‘Elections Have Consequences’

From local city council decisions all the way up to the White House, gun control advocates are getting a taste of medicine from the American people and it’s a bitter pill they can’t swallow. As they’ve pushed policies that have made neighborhoods less safe, law-abiding Americans have given back a dose of their own remedy – lawfully purchasing a firearm.

GunVote Lead

The midterm elections are 10 months away and candidates are already making their positions known. NSSF launched #GUNVOTE to make sure voters know where candidates stand on Second Amendment issues so they don’t risk their rights at the polls.


Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.


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  1. “In California, P.J. Gomez founded the Latino Rifle Association and the group has already added several hundred members. ‘I don’t believe self-defense…should be exclusive to people on the right politically,’ Gomez said.”

    Well P.J. the vast majority of people on the right politically don’t think self-defense should be exclusive to people on the right politically either.

    • Most people fall for Gun Control because they assume Gun Control is something good when lots of history confirms Gun Control in any shape, matter or form is rooted in racism and genocide. Nothing, nada “good” can ever come from such evil, it is what it is. Based on his own silly political words the aforementioned is far from P.J. Gomez’s mind and unfortunately his emptiness is passed along to the members of his organization. Hopefully he reads this and starts over.

    • I wonder what will be said about my new rifle club….. the ARYAN RIFLE ASSOCIATION (ARA)?

  2. Are we gonna have a “red wave” this year? Not in ILLannoy. Dead n buried state. Just more “legal” gats in the hands of Dims. Dumb dims…

  3. Indiana House Bill 1077, which will allow gun owners to carry without a permit, passed the Indiana House Tuesday. The bill now heads to the Senate.

    The bill would allow anyone age 18 or older to carry a handgun except for reasons such as having a felony conviction or having a dangerous mental illness.

    Supporters argued the permit requirement undermined Second Amendment protections by forcing law-abiding citizens to undergo police background checks.

    “This right is a God-given natural right, not one given by the government. The government should not be your plan for self-defense. It’s your responsibility to protect yourself, your families, your loved ones as well as your neighbors,” said Hamilton County Sheriff Dennis Quakenbush.

    If passed, Indiana would become the 22nd state in the Country to have such a law on the books.

    The current constitutional carry states in the US are:

    New Hampshire
    North Dakota (residents only; concealed carry only)
    South Dakota
    Tennessee (handguns only)
    West Virginia

    • So which of those states are blue?

      Let’s not confuse the advance of liberty with mere “Big Sort”.

  4. …elected officials supporting more gun control could be in for a rude awakening given the shifting Second Amendment support among their voting constituencies.”

    I wouldn’t bet heavily on this.

    There’s good reason to think that many of the people who are first-time buyers probably also are moving out of the state. The failed recall of Newsom suggests that this is more likely than not. You can also see the trend in NYC.

    Historically speaking, this is how things went for Detroit or Cleveland. The pols had no reason to change behavior because most of the “politically intelligent” fled leaving only the true believers and those unfortunate enough to be stuck in that location. The latter group usually being dependent on .gov for handouts and unwilling to vote out the people giving out the freebies for fear of loss of those freebies.

    Realistically what you’re seeing at this point is a pseudo-Balkanization of the US along pretty specific lines that don’t actually have that much to do with guns, or really civil rights in general. They’re economic or just plain burnout issues. Yeah, some are crime related but that’s entirely tangential to the 2A issue.

    The Zoom Cohort/Laptop Class are not changing their opinions because they have no reason to. It’s the people not in that cohort that are leaving and they are, therefore, hardening the political position of the people who remain.

    The real question going forward is how this pseudo-Balkanization works out over the next number of cycles. I have some pretty significant reservations about this because 2/3rds of your most-likely options are not good.

    1. These people learned a lesson and will change their behavior on moving to a new location.

    2. They won’t do that, at least not for the longer term. Regression to mean suggests that #1 is, in fact, unlikely for the majority. This will cause a bluing of red states over time. AOC loves to party in Florida but she ain’t gonna change her politics.

    3. It’s important to remember that in some cases, for example Austin, Texas or parts of Colorado, the movement of people here from a place like California isn’t actually a choice made by the people. Their employer moved and brought employees with it. That’s not a shift in preferences, it’s a transplantation. In this case there’s not going to be a shift and regression, it will just be a shift in the direction you don’t want and a state like Cali has enough population to turn a large number of other states very, very blue. That includes Texas.

    What really matters in terms of gun rights is the overall zeitgeist of the population in terms of self-reliance/decentralization as a mindset. If the overall cultural attitude of the person isn’t changed then they will, at absolute best, be a fairweather supporter of gun rights because, really, that was never a *big* issue for them to begin with.

    This is why people should pay a bit more attention when someone like Bret Weinstein talks about his, now several years old, conversion to a belief in gun rights. What happened for him over the course of several years is that his entire sense-making apparatus switched gears because he saw fundamental flaws in his previous base assumptions. He didn’t just switch on one or two things because he got mugged by reality, his entire world-view shifted.

    If that doesn’t happen then the people *changing their opinions* are, at best, a temporary gain for more freedom minded people.

    That said, our side will have numerous other opportunities outside of gun-centric issues to spread the message here in the next year or two. The question is what percentage of people can actually take advantage of that to a large degree. The more actually do it and engage the better the outcome.

    • Guns are not as much of an issue for most of the people moving out of California, it is instead the high cost of living and the inability for small businesses to survive. If the proposed doubling of the income tax and the imposition of a gross receipts tax pass to pay for “universal health care” (which to be fair is not too terribly likely since it requires a 2/3 majority of both the Legislature and the voting public), there will be a flood of people moving east, and those left will be very wealthy, retired, or on welfare/homeless. Real estate values will plummet. Family farms will fail, leaving only giant agribusiness and migrant workers behind to feed America. Even Silicon Valley will pull up stakes and head to Norcross, Ga. or Florida. I am not sure what will be left.

  5. When/if/when the dems execute the next steal in November, the lists of those new owners will make it easier for the goons to find and seize.

    • Every vote recount with Republicans clogging the recount rooms proved the vote counts were accurate and Biden won the election. Only an ignoramus or nut case who hangs out on far right wing nut case forums would believe the election was stolen. Even Trumps mouth piece Fox News finally admitted the election was not stolen.

      • Left Logic… the Election was 100% legitimate without any questions of widespread fraud, therefore it is imperitive that we pass important changes to the election process. And we MUST pass them before the midterms.

      • dacian, You lie! The Arizona Report shows that there was significant differences in the vote tallies. Wisconsin is still investigating as is a number of other states.

        • The results were inconclusive, with very little verifiable fraud. But it did reveal that there are over 40,000 ballots that are impossible to verify for authenticity — which I’d argue is exactly the point.

          Arizona, like every other state that expanded mail-in and/or absentee voting to everyone with zero safeguards, ensured that you’ll never really *know* how much fraud is hidden in there. You’re not meant to know.

      • dacian,

        I am somewhat confident that all the precincts counted their ballots and electronic votes correctly. That isn’t the huge problem.

        The huge problem is that many ballots are illegitimate since they cannot be validated/verified. Furthermore, many electronic votes (where there is no paper ballot) or electronic vote tallies cannot be verified because the authentication logs disappeared.

        Finally, no one is claiming that this happened all over the United States. What a select few people are claiming–with ample good reasons and evidence–is that this happened in one, two, or three key precincts in each of five states if I recall correctly.

        I have personally reviewed some of the claims/evidence: I am convinced that Democrats pulled shenanigans and did not actually win the White House.

        • “I have personally reviewed some of the claims/evidence: I am convinced that Democrats pulled shenanigans and did not actually win the White House“

          Could you possibly share this evidence you speak up or is it under double secret seal?
          Have you provided this information to Mike Lindell, he’d probably give you lots of money…

          I thought the multi month exhaustive audit by the cyber ninjas showing no widespread fraud would satisfy you folks, but once I understood that your position is based on feelings rather than facts it became clear why you refuse to accept reality.

          The only real election fraud evidence I’ve seen lately is that of the seven states where Republicans produced fraudulent elector certificates and submitted them to Congress and the national archives, thereby perpetrating a massive election forgery at the highest levels.

          Did you see the Republican Arizona state legislator who, when confronted with the evidence of his election fraud, ran from the reporter like a common thief.

        • Miner49er I’d be very glad to share the evidence with you. Thousands of votes were shipped into Pennsylvania from NYS.
          The Maricopa County audit showed many irregularities.
          Wisconsin is still investigating.
          Chicago is well known for its election shenanigans.
          But somehow you Lefties ignore such. Why is that?
          Have a good day.

  6. In reality the Far Right gained no political power with the gun buying panic. The people who panicked were the same old far right nut cases that already owned 1/2 the guns in the U.S. but represent only 3% of all gun owners. Most panic buyers and hoarders of vast amounts of ammo were not first time gun buyers.

    • My county has been averaging 400 pistol permits a month since March 2020 with no indication of slowing down. Because of the Nature of NY laws these are all defacto first time pistol buyers even if they own other firearms independently and have been majority women. Two of my neighboring counties process double that, I think your logic may be inaccurate.

      • Safe you just contradicted yourself. Re-read your own post. My post therefore was valid as the gun buyers were not first time buyers therefore you gained no new political power.

        You also admitted the system does not differentiate between actual first time buyers and people who already owned guns. Also to infer that just because they were women they had to be first time buyers has no validity to it either.

        And to further complicate reality many gun buyers who are either first time or old time owners of guns does not mean they would not support new gun laws either as studies prove that the majority of gun owners and even the Republican Congressmen support safe storage laws and support Universal Background Checks. Both were going to be introduced and supported by the Republicans per the statement of Mitch McConnell after the horrific double mass murders in Texas followed by the one in Dayton, Ohio the very next day. The proposed laws were never even introduced only because Trump said he would veto any such laws.

        • You are about 1/4 right, the first time females are 90+ % first time gun buyers and they have made up 60-80% of the new permits so yes we are majority first time gun owners for pistols. The males are more tricky to figure out and surveys are at best junk data and even they are indicating that the estimated 40% new gun owner purchases in the country would be laughably low for NY. With that said we have a lot more new gun owners, probably have a bunch of of new super owners as you and various lefty echoboxes rant about as well and to top it all off we may have a much easier process for everyone involved in buying pistols before Memorial Day. Rant and rave as you like but they super owner having most of the guns meme has been dead for over a decade even before this development.

        • please stop…. nobody is reading your drivel…. you mouth breathing commie….gtfo….
          the only people responding to your bs are the other morons/ low IQ ghetto trash such as yourself who come here to whine and lie….
          And since i’m actually wasting time responding to you, go back and tell your h o mo/ illegal alien buddies that the next time they wanna BURN LOOT OR MURDER in my town, we’re ready to take you down this time…

    • dacian, another lie? Do you ever get tired of lying? The new gun owners, i.e.: people who have never bought a gun before is astronomical.

      To you anyone to the right of Karl Marx is “Far Right”. 7

    • Those people already had firearms and would mostly NOT pay the premium asked for firearms and ammo in the last 3 years. Those firearms were sold to first and second time buyers because they were desperate to have some type of firearm defense – I do not blame them at all. If the laws were not against it, I may have lent a handgun to a relative who was scared, but I had to tell them they had to buy their own.

        • I mean to say 700 million guns.

          What response would you like?

          Ask the ATF what the context was.

          I can only speculate they’re counting guns. Why? Your guess would be as goid as mine.

          Stop drinking the Kool-Aid.

        • Yeah, right, johnpaul. Face it. You are just another dacian in disguise. Maybe just another one of dacian’s fake names. You are just another one of those anti-gun radicals.

          Why pratest thou to thyself and anwser’st not” …thou drone, thou snail, thou slug, thou sot! (The Comedy of Errors)

  7. Leftists/Dems don’t go away. When the political tides don’t go their way, they double down on what didn’t work, intending to wear out the population’s resistance. Leftists/Dems understand “the long march”.

    Facebook just moved to Austin, TX, bringing Leftist/Dem culture into the heart of a red state. Every major city in Texas is run by Leftists/Dems. If the Leftists/Dems turn Texas blue, can a Republicrat ever win a presidential election again?

    • Well, Sam, while I agree with most of your point, I think you went a little hyperbolic about Fakebook “. . . bringing Leftist/Dem culture into the heart of a red state.” by moving to Austin. Austin is, and has been for decades, about as blue as anywhere outside of California or New York.

      Other than that, I agree . . . the goal of the Leftist/fascists is to so rig the system that they never HAVE to campaign, or try to sell their STUPID ideas. Unfortunately, their own stupidity and ineptitude is their biggest stumbing block. They are so busy shooting themselves in the foot (and arse) these days, they can’t get out of their own way.

      Hey, dacian the stupid, tell us again how you guys are “in control”, and all the great things you’ve accomplished!! At the same time, you can also tell us all the details about your super-stupendous, awesome “education” (IF such alleged “education” exists, it would be a degree in underwater basket weaving from Southwest North Dakota State Teacher’s College at Rainpuddle, but I have a large bet down that dacian’s alleged “education” is exactly as real as all his other delusions.).

  8. What the left has never understood is that the crop they think they sow ain’t necessarily the one they reap.

  9. The same blue state first-timers who are lining up to buy guns will also line up to vote for the candidates who want to take the guns away.

    H.L. Mencken was right about the stupidity of the average American. And below-average Americans are even more stupid and tend to congregate in blue states.

  10. This is one of the reasons for the push to end the filibuster, look for sweeping federal gun control if this comes to pass. Who needs those pesky states to fall in line.

  11. I doubt blue voters learn their lesson(s). I live in a very red county in a very red state. Years ago, a couple from California bought the house next door to us. They couldn’t believe the price they paid saying that a comparable house in Ca. would have cost them millions. They said they moved away from Ca. because of the cost of living and high taxes and silly regs.

    In October of 2016, my new neighbor, who (again) had fled a blue state, put a Hillary sign in his yard. I made the comment to him, “Voting for what you fled makes perfect sense.” The sign was gone later that day maybe due to my comment or the HOA.

  12. I think we will see a lot of Democrat nominees suddenly become ” We support the second amendment ”
    Whatever it takes to get a vote, yup.

  13. I would bet more like 7 million or at least 70,000
    I have the bumper sticker “Don’t California my Texas”

    Sadly, it’s doesn’t work for some people!
    They are coming for the lower house prices,
    Now have increased the price to the point that young families can’t afford it and so many Beds and Bed and Breakfast homes, you can’t even find a house to rent while you’re building a house.
    They have apartment for rent but if you have large dog owners you are basically out of luck, just an F as first letter and ed, last two letters and you will have my true intention.
    My husband and I want to build a retirement home, on Ranch land, gifted to me and my very responsible brother and my self.
    We have Long Horn cattle.we don’t have too many out of town folks come by to take pictures of the cattle.
    For some reason we have a lot of folks from Japan to take pictures of the Longhorns if they are in front pasture. They can park away the cattle gate.
    As long as they don’t try to ride the cows.
    Believe me, friend of us had tried to ride a cow.
    very upsetting for the cows.
    My dad woke up and told our friend” Bobby I can appreciate you picking our place to somber up so get driving ticket, all I ask is please don’t try to ride the livestock, they can and will hurt you badly, get back in your Pickup Truck and sleep it off and wait until morning and you can get cup of coffee with me and then be on your way.
    I rather you don’t get drunk but if it happens again please just stay in your truck!
    My dad started out as a drill instructor in the Air Force but with our friends he tested them like a Beagle puppy.

      • He’s got her picture up on his “hero wall” alongside Stalin, Marx, Mao, Che, Fidel, AOC, Malig-Nancy, Senile Joe, and Adam “Pencil Neck” Schiff. Oops, almost forgot Eric “Fangbanger” Swallowswell.

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