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By Jim Curcuruto

The early part of 2020 has been unlike any other year for firearm purchases—particularly by first-time buyers—as new NSSF research reveals millions of people chose to purchase their first gun during the COVID-19 pandemic.

January 2020 started out with a strong SHOT Show, followed by buzz surrounding background check figures on firearms with NSSF-adjusted NICS data showing year-over-year increases of 19 percent in January and 17 percent in February.

Mid-March brought the COVID-19 pandemic to the front of every news cycle, and firearm sales during this time were a lead story. Thanks in large part to the work done by NSSF’s legislative team, the firearms industry was deemed essential in most states, and firearm retailers were allowed to stay open to conduct business.

And conduct business they did, with NSSF-adjusted NICS figures showing year-over-year increases of 80 percent in March and 69 percent in April 2020. These strong increases led to more than 6.5 million NSSF-adjusted background checks in the first four months of 2020, up 48 percent from 4.4 million during the same period in 2019.

NSSF has been the go-to source for information on the firearm industry, providing insights on topics such as women gun owners, first-time gun buyers and shooting sports participation for more than a decade. In May 2020, NSSF surveyed firearm retailers to learn more about what they were seeing pertaining to sales during the first four months of 2020.

Not surprisingly, retailers reported an increased number of first-time gun buyers, estimating that 40 percent of their sales were to this group. This is an increase of 67 percent over the annual average of 24-percent first-time gun buyers that retailers have reported in the past. Semiautomatic handguns were the primary firearm being purchased by first-time buyers, outpacing the second-most purchased firearm, shotguns, by a 2 to 1 margin. Modern sporting rifles, revolvers and traditional rifles rounded out the top five types of firearms purchased by first-time gun buyers.

Retailers noted that these new customers were spending $595 on an average sale and that 40 percent of first-time gun buyers in the first four months of 2020 were female. The main purchase driver among the group was personal protection, followed by target shooting and hunting. Also of note was that 25 percent of first-time buyers had already taken some form of firearms safety course and 63 percent inquired about taking a firearms safety course in the near future.

All this equates to more than 2.5 million new gun owners in a very short period of time. Past NSSF research has shown that in order to keep these new owners active and avoid them becoming lapsed participants, they will need information on topics such as how to safely own, operate and secure their new purchase.

Additionally, these new gun owners will need an invitation to go to the range or to the field to learn about firearm safety, personal protection and the recreational side of gun ownership, so be sure to add a +ONE and invite some of these first-time gun owners with you as the nice weather returns and social distancing requirements are relaxed.

For additional insights on the firearm industry, visit Please click here to print and share an infographic outlining the results of this survey.


Jim Curcuruto is Director of Research and Market Development for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. 

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  1. As the various action demanding moms in the burbs watch unhinged Bernie bros and crackheads set their nearest city on fire I bet they rush out and buy even more.

  2. Interesting.

    I just hope the CoronApocolypse and the riots convince more people the 2nd amendment is as relevant today was when it was written.

    I can dream…….

    • That does assume they #.1 have a clue and #.2 can smell the coffee afar stretch for your average Leftist.

      • My informal survey is that not all are leftist.

        Many urban/suburban folks who did not grow up with guns. (Need more places to shoot)

        That said…..The ltrue eftist elite will buy their guns and then try to take yours.

        That has never changed.

  3. I think those post-menopausal females who have been petulantly “demanding action” aren’t going to be pleased by this.

      • But don’t you know? They took an hour long class, so they believe that they should have one, but still don’t trust those racist trump supporting white men to have them. And when all this blows over, they’ll go to WaPo or daily beast, or some other leftist rag, and pen some screed along the lines of, “I bought a gun during the Kung Flu panic, and now I’m turning it into police to have it destroyed. I can’t believe I let a gun into my home, and put my family in danger like that”, and nothing will be learned.

  4. I’ve always said if I was a woman I’d carry a gunm or two. I was happy to see my girlfiend had her pistall with her when she swung over( she’s part chimpanzee) the other night. .

  5. Ok. Forms Ask sex.
    No forms ask if it is your first gun purchase.
    Not sure how they are estimating these percentages for first time buyers.

    • Because any gun retailer worth his salt knows a first-timer when he or she sees one. They ask a lot of qualifying questions like, “Have you ever shot a gun before?” “How do you intend to use this new pistol, Mrs. Smith?” “Are you looking for a gun for concealed carry, home defense, plinking?”

      Like that.

      • Hmm. Was never asked those questions when I purchased my guns at my original LGS or inquired about others at two other FFLs. But hopefully I gave off the vibe that I knew what I was doing…(insert rolled eyes here)

        • I’ve never been asked any of that either but my first pistol I bought at a gun show and already knew what I wanted just did some price shopping. The only other “gun” I’ve bought at a gun store was a stripped lower for my AR. Besides that they’ve all been online and shipped to a kitchen table FFL.

    • Might be the BATFE sees this is the first time Nancy Smith has ever submitted a 4473? I reckon they keep pretty good track of who’s buying gunms

    • Want to know how we FFL’s know that they’re a first time gun buyer?

      When you shove a 4473 under their nose, and they have to start answering “all these questions,” they say something like “I heard it was a lot easier than this to buy a gun… why are you asking only ME all these questions?”

      The first-time buyers usually self-ID, and they self-ID when the 4473 is shoved under their nose – not by any question on the 4473, just the mere existence of the form itself.

      I’ve seen this for years then the gun newbs show up to buy their first gun where ever I’ve seen it happen. It’s usually hilarious to listen to their utterances after reading through the 4473 the first time. Some would-be first time gun owners simply balk and walk away from the transaction…

      • I can see that.
        But some may already own a gun given to them or inherited…didn’t have to go through the process.
        One would think it was a first gun at that point.
        And I would think most sales persons would ask, too.
        But who actually keeps track anywhere?
        The more the merrier as long as they pass the checks and stay responsible owners and users!

      • So, the ATF’s numbers are based on FFLs’ assumptions? That’s what I’m seeing as the takeaway from both your comment and Dan Zimmerman’s above. Kinda vague, no?

        • The ATF/NICS/FBI will know that they’ve never seen that ID used to buy a gun before. They don’t know that the person who used the ID owns no guns, period – they could have inherited guns, or been given a gun as a gift, or purchased one from an individual in a state where this is allowed.

          All the Feds know is that “this is the first time they’ve seen that ID used through NICS.” They also know the make/model, type of gun in question.

          The information of this being a first time ID check is not communicated to the FFL at all. All the FFL gets from NICS is “proceed,” (ie, go ahead and transfer the gun), “denied,” (the background check failed), and “delayed.” That’s it.

          Figuring out that the customer in front of them is a complete newbie, and needs training? That’s an extra burden placed on the FFL for fun by circumstances.

    • But many are going to buy online as well…pick up at an FFL.
      Don’t get me wrong…I think it is interesting…but it is actually guesswork and hunches as I see by the wording now.
      And plenty of people will lie either way. Or just say it is nobody’s business.
      Sort of like how many illegal aliens are in the country.
      I believe 20M…some claim 6…others 10. No way to really know precisely.
      Plenty of gun owners have had multiple boating accidents…even in the middle of the desert. wink wink

      • Yeah…it’s not like it’s a super-personal question.
        Helps with the process in many cases I imagine.
        Do you actually keep track anywhere?
        Might be interesting if that was a question on the form as well.
        But I wonder if people would answer truthfully, of course.
        No more intrusive than many of the other questions.

    • Only male and female on the form right now.
      Updated version has the third option.
      Are they using it yet? My last one a couple weeks ago was the old/current version.

        • The sex forms part of the identification. Some people have names that could be either sex – eg, “Chris.”

  6. Good. Ultimately, the only way this ongoing coup against decent people will be stopped is decent people with firearms.

  7. “Retailers: 40% of 2020 Gun Buyers are First-Timers and 40% of Those are Female”

    The Karen’s over at Brady are not going to be happy about this.

  8. And 90% will never fire their new toy. But they’ll feel so safe and secure knowing that their gun is . . . . oops, where did they put that piece? I guess they forgot.

    Panic buyers aren’t buying with their heads. So, they will vote for gun control because if it turns out that they didn’t need the guns this time, then we don’t need them ever. Or they’ll become ignorant “experts” who claim that nobody needs 30 rounds. Or they’ll hook up with a demanding harpy or soyboy who will convince them to give up their guns. Or some other bvllsh!t.

    Progressives own guns too. And they do not have our best interests at heart.

    • Well I’m kinda hoping them panic buyers sale their gunms when all this is over,??, might flood the gunm shop and pawnshops with some good deals? Nah, they’ll probably turn them into the cops, do the right thing, yah know

    • “So, they will vote for gun control because if it turns out that they didn’t need the guns this time, then we don’t need them ever.”

      Leftists can be pragmatic when they want to.

      I seriously doubt the police will destroying millions of turned-in guns.

      Most likely, they will (try to) hide it from their kids “just in case”.

      They will rationalize that they can be trusted with guns, but the sister-fucking Trump supporters are the ones that cannot be trusted with them…

  9. This is fun! Please be nice to them. I don’t care if they’re male, female, binary, other, polysexual (stuffed animals, furniture, livestock, stick shift…). Show them which end of the gun the bullet comes out of, where the trigger is, etc. Take them to the range/farm, shoot a gong, target, watermelon, teddy bear, dildo… explain that the Dems have their heads up their asses….. and, not for fun. …and, Trumpy will let them keep their new gun!

  10. It’s funny. I frequent gun stores in my area, and I’ve seen the shift with my own eyes. Before it was just a lot more women in general. Now I’m seeing prominently black women coming in. They are tired of being scared and are waking up to the fact that they don’t have to be. I was at a store Friday, and a lady was filling out a form on an AR. I asked her what kind of shooting she was planning on, and she said whoever keeps coming up and banging on the front door at 3AM. That was probably the best answer I’ve ever gotten with that question. The only problem is they had run out of ammo and were having to ration it. But it warms the heart to see people taking up for themselves.

  11. According to pop culture, women gun buyers are compensating… for a small penis?
    One supposes that many have only recently realized the total lack of said glandular appendage.

  12. The distinction between “modern sporting rifle” and “traditional rifle” is very blurry.
    For example, is a Mini-14 an MSR or a traditional rifle? The answer is yes, or “it depends.”
    A Mini-14 with a wooden stock looks non-threatening, so it’s often called a “traditional rifle”, but the exact same rifle with a black plastic stock is called (by the average ignorant politician who knows nothing of guns) an “assault weapon.”
    Is it the plastic stock’s blackness that makes it scary? That’s racism! Anti-gun people are racists!

    Or is it the pistol grip, because it’s phallus-shaped, and because anti-gun people are scared of anything that’s long, round, black, and hard jutting out from the midsection of something that’s big and black? Anti-gun people are not only racist, they’re also guilty of misandry (hatred of men). They hate black men, and a black rifle with a black grip sticking out reminds them of black men, so they hate it and want to ban it.
    I believe Freud would agree with me on this!


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