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The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) recently released a report on the purchasing habits of handgun owners. It had a ton of firearms-related information that nerds like me find interesting: age ranges, spending budgets, ammunition preferences and more. Did you know that well over 50 percent of people purchasing their first handgun do so for self defense? Here’s the data . . .

I prepared this nifty little chart based on the data in the report. The NSSF were nice enough to break out their results to include not only the average statistics (in blue) but also the results from only those who own a single handgun (red). If you look at the red bars, you’ll notice that BY FAR the #1 reason people purchase their first handgun is home defense. Second is “plinking” (which I believe is the OFWG word for what people do at the range). Concealed carry is right behind plinking at about 16 percent. Home defense + concealed carry = well over 50 percent of the purchases.

So what does this tell us?

The most obvious takeaway: Americans looking to defend themselves are turning to handguns to defend their homes and their families. Which makes perfect sense; the handgun is the most logical choice for self defense scenarios. It’s easy to conceal (either on your person or in the home), easy to maneuver, and cheap to feed and maintain.

The issue: handguns are also the most heavily regulated non-NFA weapon available.

Back in my native state of New York I couldn’t purchase one without police approval and registration. Some places (DC and Chicago in particular) make it damn near impossible to own, let alone carry one. So when a first-time firearms buyer walks into their local gun store and asks to buy a handgun, the sheer volume of paperwork required is likely to turn them off legal gun ownership.

People want the ability to defend themselves. That’s their right and their responsibility. A handgun in the hands of a well trained citizen is the right tool for the job. But for some reason that idea (an armed citizen) scares the crap out of the gun control crowd. And that fear has led to an inability – in too many places – for people to be able to purchase the proper tools to defend themselves against crime. And that ain’t right.

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  1. I always found the hysteria over handguns overblown when you consider a shotgun offers more power for less money. But then I realized after the handguns are banned the long guns would be next as soon as they mandated muzzleloading and archery for hunting.

    I’m surprised at the number and type of people asking me what kind of handgun they should buy. Women and Asian immigrants are the bulk of the interested parties. Typically these were two groups that didn’t buy guns according to the nerds that study such things, particularly Asians where guns are virtually banned from private ownership in their home countries.
    Scenes from the evening news have a lot to do with it. Thanks MSM for helping make gun ownership an accepted part of being a citizen here.

    • I am not suprised. A number of people where I work, at church or on FB contact me privately and ask about what they should get for SD at home, not necessarily for concealed carry. I am more than happy to oblige because the more we make this thing we enjoy so much less scary, the more we are #winning!

  2. I’m surprised that only well over half of handgun buyers snag their first guns for SD. I would have expected the ratio to be way higher. Target shooting, hunting, plinking and competition are all reasons why people buy handguns, but I would have thought that first-timers are focused on SD, and develop the other interests over a period of time.

  3. Here in NY State, the rumor is that during the permit process any mention of self defense could result in permit denial. As a result almost all applications are filed stating the intended purpose as “fishing, hunting, trapping and target practice”. In my county all permits are issued with that restriction, typed in red. No matter what the applicant’s stated purpose was.
    With that in mind, I think it’s fair to say that any survey(at least in NY) would result in folks not being entirely candid about owning a gun for SD.

  4. Probably people buying for self-defense is a lot higher. Cops get antsy on permits stating you are buying for self defense.

  5. A lot of friends have been asking me advice lately about their first handgun purchases. I do what I can to help them and give them lots of places to read up. One a couple weeks ago decided on a Ruger SR-9 for a home defense and occasional carry gun. Many are also interested in buying their first semi-automatic sporting rifles. All this recent attention around the issues of gun ownership seem to have awakened my generation to taking more responsibility in defending their homes and families.

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