Sunday, October 02, 2022

Millions First Time Gun Buyers, Confirmed

 In the record breaking sales of firearms in 2020 there were numerous people who purchased firearms who had not purchased a firearm before.

Many of the new gun owners were driven to purchase guns because of the uncertainty seen in 2020. There were many riots. There were prosecutors who refused to prosecute. The murder rate grew rapidly. The political system was attacked and vilified. 

Gun sales reached a record level of about 20.66 million guns sold in 2020, according to this correspondent's calculations.

The National Shooting Sports Federation ran surveys at numerous retail outlets. Those surveys indicated there were about 8.4 million first time gun buyers in 2020 and 5.4 million in 2021:

Recent firearm industry retail data revealed first-time gun buyers especially, totaling more than 5.4 million in 2021 and 8.4 million in 2020, are seeking training opportunities with their new purchases.

Once experienced with the process involved to legally purchase their gun and confident with using it, it’s no wonder gun-owning Americans view the push for more gun control with increasing skepticism.

Surveys are difficult to verify.  

According to the NSSF survey, about 13.8 million gun purchasers in 2020 and 2021 were first time gun buyers.

In a California federal case about whether a state can ban semi-automatic firearms and magazines (Miller v Bonta), Judge Roger Benitez required the state to provide statistics about gun sales. 

California is unusual among states, it requires all legal firearm sales to be processed through a federal dealer.  Those statistics are the most complete data we have on firearms sales in a state.

The California Department of Justice, Bureau of Firearms, was forced to provide data about new firearm buyers.

Blake Graham, Assistant Director of the California Department of Justice provided the following in a sworn document to the court:

 The total number of firearms sold in California with background checks in 2020 was 1,165,309. As of March 12, 2021, the total number of firearms sold in California with background checks in 2021 was 180,058. These figures account for all firearm sales conducted through FFLs in the state, including private- party transactions, consignments, and pawn sales.

Graham also provided the number of first time firearm purchasers, as well as could be determined:

Based on these parameters, approximately 369,511 individuals purchased a firearm in California who had not previously submitted a DROS application to the Department prior to January 1, 2020. As of March 12, 2021, approximately 42,548 individuals purchased a firearm who had not previously submitted a DROS application to the Department prior to January 1, 2021.

Of the guns purchased in all of 2020 in California, about 32% were by new gun buyers. Of the guns purchased up until March of 2021, about 24% were new gun buyers. 

There were about 20.66 million guns purchased in the USA in 2020. Using the percentages from California, about 6.55 million of those would be new gun buyers. In the smaller sample from 2021, the percentage of new gun buyers was 24%. Extrapolated to the entire USA for all of 2021, that would be another 4.34 million new gun buyers.

Extrapolating the California percentages to the entire United States, there would be about 10.95 million new gun buyers in 2020 and 2021.

The total for the two years, based on the California Department of Safety figures, would be 10.95 million new gun buyers. While this figure is smaller that the NSSF estimate of 13.8 million new gun buyers, it is based on sales in California.  

Gun sales are more difficult for the first time buyer in California than for most other states. This might discourage prospective gun owners from buying a first gun in California.

For example, new gun owners in California must take a test and pass it. Then they are given a Firearms Safety Certificate (FSC). An FSC is required before they can purchase a firearm. Only one firearm may be purchased in any given 30 days. 

Once the firearm is purchased, the purchaser has to wait 10 days before they are allowed to possess it.

In 2020, Californians purchased about .024 firearms per capita. 

In non restrictive states (other than CA,HI,NY,NJ,MA,MD and DC) , residents purchased .075 firearms per capita, or over three times as many. 

Considering the limitations of retail surveys and the potential bias in purchasing guns in a restrictive state, the California numbers are reasonably close to the NSSF estimate.

As this is written, we are more that half way through 2022. It is reasonable to surmise over 12 million new gun owners have been added to the number of gun owners in the United States in the last three years.

The new gun owners go far in explaining the difficulty in obtaining ammunition at prices common only four years ago.

©2022 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch


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