Smith and Wesson CEO Mark Smith said told investors recently that there had been 19.2 million background checks for gun purchases this year. It’s the most for an 11-month period since the FBI began recording that data. In fact, according to FBI data, nine out of the 10 busiest weeks for background checks have been in 2020. Nine out of the top 10 days have also taken place this year.
Helping drive those sales are first-time gun owners. The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimated they make up 40% — about 8 million sales — of firearm purchases in 2020.
There are a number of contributing factors that explain the rise in purchases. Gun sales always increase during presidential election years. Campaigns usually drive narratives that their opponent will impose stricter gun laws or outright ban guns. But this year has been especially unique because of the coronavirus pandemic. The unsteady economy has caused panic and economic insecurity has left people to seek protection outside of government agencies or police.
Rick Green, a gun safety instructor in Austin, Texas credits the surge in sales to both the pandemic and rioting.
“I think the burden is just shifting from, ‘I’m going to count on the government to do all this for me,’ to ‘wait a minute, I am the government. We the people, we’re in charge. And I have a duty and responsibility,’” he told the Washington Times. “I am encouraged by that. It’s a healthy thing for the country.”
Women Make Up Near Half of First-Time Gun Buyers
According to the NSSF, 40% of new gun owners are women. And African-Americans are purchasing more firearms than any other demographic.
Smith & Wesson CEO Mark Smith told investors he’s excited about the expansion of ownership.
“This expanded consumer base of new firearm owners represents a healthy long-term opportunity for the industry as a whole, but specifically for Smith & Wesson,” he added.