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June 5, 2024

Since the 2020 Election, the number of new gun owners equals the population of Florida

By Matt Manda

Gun control activists hate gun ownership. “More guns means more violence!,” they shout. They’ll swear up and down that guns cause crime, not deranged and violent people. They push an unending agenda to limit the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans to lawfully purchase and possess firearms.

Gun control activists are in for some bad news: Americans have rejected their anti-gun dogma in a Florida-sized way.

Firearm industry data has revealed something astounding. In a major shift since 2020, a population the size of Florida has become first-time, brand-new gun owners. That’s right – more than 22.3 million people who previously had decided firearm ownership wasn’t for them looked around, decided they didn’t like what they were seeing, jumped off the fence and lawfully purchased a gun at retail.

22.3 million.

One thing’s for sure. Those Americans can make a difference on Election Day.

Backdrop Behind the Numbers

The reasons that led to such a dramatic surge in lawful gun ownership in America over the past three years are well known and understood. It began with COVID-era lockdowns and forced business shutdowns, followed by the “defund the police movement” and soft-on-crime prosecutors who took it easy on repeat violent criminals and an overwhelming feeling that police couldn’t be counted on when seconds and minutes mattered most and the civil unrest that gripped the nation during the summer of 2020.

In the middle of it all, Chris Cheng – a gay Asian American man and past History Channel Top Shot competitive shooting champion – testified in front of a U.S. Senate committee hearing and summarized what was happening.

“The past year-and-a-half or so with COVID-19 has been a pressure cooker… When you couple that with calls to defund the police and taking law enforcement officers off the street… it makes citizens like me less safe,” Cheng said. “If I can’t have law enforcement there, then it is a rational conclusion that individual citizens like myself would opt to utilize my Second Amendment right to purchase a firearm and use that firearm in lawful and legal self-defense.”

In Washington, D.C., African American mothers of young children Kennette Brown and Nicole Washington each spoke to local media earlier this year and explained why they joined the gun-owning community.

“A lot of times men look at women and they think we are defenseless. They target us, first because they think we don’t carry. We can defend ourselves as women, we are not as weak as you think we are,” Brown said. Washington added, “With all the things going on in the world, you just want to be able to protect yourself.”

Cheng, Washington and Brown all exemplify how Americans – including record numbers of non-white male Americans – became empowered to take their own safety into their hands and buy a gun. To anyone paying attention, the shift in who was buying and training with firearms was a welcomed sign, as the Second Amendment is for every law-abiding citizen.

The Big Number

NSSF works constantly with our members to understand who is buying firearms and why. The trend throughout 2020-2023 was that Americans overwhelmingly decided to take up the Second Amendment and become gun owners, seek education, training and practice. Local media reports abound of sold-out and jampacked classes across the country.

Industry data shows that since 2020, at least 22.3 million law-abiding Americans went to a licensed gun store and purchased a firearm for the first time. As mentioned – that’s approximately the population of the state of Florida, all new gun owners.

Segmented out by year, it’s unsurprising the initial shock and feelings of unease in 2020 led to the largest surge in first-time buyers. Midway through 2020, first-time gun owners accounted for approximately 40 percent of buyers, according to retailers. The “normal” is usually somewhere around 20-24 percent. All told in 2020, there were approximately 8.4 million new first-time gun owners.

In 2021, the initial surge in first-timers subsided a bit and the number totaled about 5.4 million first-time gun buyers. The percentage dropped to around 30 percent of all buyers. In 2022, totaled approximately 4.2 million and 2023 actually rose just a bit to 4.3 million, according to industry data. The 2024 figures aren’t finalized yet, but so far there have been just north of 6 million total FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verifications processed for the sale of a firearm. If the percentages hold to average, that could mean another million more first-time gun buyers for the year, so far.

After the May 2024 firearm sales figures were reported, and in the face of increased calls for more gun control by President Joe Biden and his gun control allies, NSSF’s Mark Oliva told media, “May showed that over 1 million Americans chose to exercise their Second Amendment rights, which starts by being able to freely approach the gun counter to make a legal firearm purchase. That streak over more than 1 million background checks has continued for 58 months, uninterrupted. Firearm ownership by law-abiding Americans is more than a luxury. It is essential to guarantee the freedoms and liberties we all enjoy.”

Voting With Wallets and Ballots

It’s crystal-clear that law-abiding Americans have been voting for more Second Amendment rights with their wallets. On average, according to industry data, those first-time buyers are spending an average of $500-$700 on their purchase (mostly for 9 mm handguns).

But gun owners are making their voices heard at the ballot box too – as they should. Voters have already come out in full force to give the boot to soft-on-crime prosecutors who have continued to side with those who break the law (often repeatedly) instead of ensuring community safety. Most recently voters in Portland, Ore., voted to replace the George Soros-backed district attorney in their city after just one term. After Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster each signed legislation into law in their respective states this year, there are now 29 states that allow Constitutional Carry, or permitless carry, to all law-abiding gun owners to carry a concealed firearm for self defense without the need for a government-issued permit.

With federal elections just five months away (and early voting begins in September in some states), control of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate are up for grabs while crime and neighborhood safety continue to be at top of mind for voters. And above all, voters will decide whether or not to give President Biden, who continues to support severe gun control restrictions and uses executive actions to implement them on his own, another term or return former President Donald J. Trump, who has vowed to uphold the Second Amendment and gun rights, to office for a second, non-consecutive term.

It is abundantly clear that there is a brand-new Florida-sized population that is giving gun rights a heavier weight as they consider how to cast their ballots. Those 22.3 million Americans need to register and on Election Day to #GUNVOTE® so they don’t risk their rights.

You may also be interested in:

Firearm Industry Agrees with Former President Trump: #GUNVOTE® is Critical in 2024

Millions of First-Time Gun Buyers During COVID-19

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