The coronavirus pandemic, along with the regular protests and riots in American cities, fueled a buying binge of guns across the nation. The uncertainty of 2020 spurred unprecedented gun sales in the United States, including a wave of new gun owners, especially among minorities and women.
Last year ended up being the highest gun sale year since the current record-keeping system went into effect, according to USA Today. Gun sales skyrocketed 40% in 2020 compared to 2019, with a record 39,695,315 background checks conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The gun buying surge has continued into 2021 in a major way. In January, which is when Joe Biden was inaugurated as president, U.S. gun sales soared 60% to 4,137,480, the largest single month since figures started to be recorded in 1998.
“There was a surge in purchasing unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” Dr. Garen J. Wintemute, a gun researcher at the University of California at Davis, said. “Usually it slows down. But this just kept going.”
But the gun spending spree isn’t reserved for only gun enthusiasts who are stocking up in fear of a Democratic president who has already proclaimed that he will sign an executive order on gun control, which would roll back Second Amendment rights. Plus, Democrats previously introduced a bill to create a mandatory and publicly accessible registry listing the names of gun owners, how many guns they have, and where they keep their firearms.
“Not only were people who already had guns buying more, but people who had never owned one were buying them too,” the New York Times reported. “New preliminary data from Northeastern University and the Harvard Injury Control Research Center show that about a fifth of all Americans who bought guns last year were first-time gun owners.”
The research found that new gun owners were less likely to be the typical demographic of white males: Half were women, one-fifth were black, and one-fifth were Hispanic.
Stephen Gutowski, founder of The Reload, a publication on America’s firearms policy, told NPR, “I think it’s actually a – part of a larger trend. We’ve seen this going on for over a decade now. Gun owners have become more suburban. They’ve become less white and less male and younger over that time period. And what you saw last year was just an acceleration of that.”
The General Social Survey, a public opinion poll conducted by a research center at the University of Chicago, found that 39% of American households own guns, up from 32% in 2016.