By Larry Keane, National Shooting Sports Foundation
Mainstream media always struggle to explain the fact that Americans choose to exercise their Second Amendment rights. In the last few days alone we have headlines suggesting the incoming Trump Administration and fear of hate crimes are behind soaring gun sales.
Under the Obama Administration, gun sales surged. The media’s take: nutty people who already have guns are buying even more guns because they are scared Obama will take away their right to buy more in the future.
Now that President-elect Trump is getting set to take office, gun sales continue to rise. Only now, the media cannot blame the fear of the nation’s gun owners. Instead, they are chasing the fear narrative in the other direction.
Media outlets are now taking a look at the demographics of those choosing to legally purchase firearms and are seeing for the first time the trends that have been evident for years now. The ongoing trends of more ethnic diversity and increasing female participation are clear to anyone in the industry. For example, NSSF research has shown previously that new target shooters are more likely than those who have been shooting for more than 5 years to be younger, female and residents of urban or suburban areas.
The increasingly diverse consumer base for firearms has shown up in recent polling as well. An ABC News poll released in April found that millennial women rate “protecting gun rights” as an issue of concern on the same level as equal pay and abortion.
Black and Hispanic respondents in an August 2016 Pew Research Center survey reported changing views on gun ownership. A majority of Hispanics, 50 percent, and about half of black respondents, 46 percent, agreed more with the statement that guns protect people rather than putting people’s safety at risk. This is a drastic change from 2012, when only 29 percent of black respondents agreed (comparison data are not available for Hispanic respondents).
Ongoing surveys by the Pew Research Center show that the percentage of black and Hispanic respondents increasingly identify protecting gun rights as more important than gun control. In August 2016, 31 percent of black respondents favored gun rights, up from 24 percent in 2013. Among Hispanic respondents, 30 percent favored gun rights in August compared to only 14 percent in 2013.
The trends in market diversity and in public opinion polls are also reflected in concealed carry permits. In July 2016, the Crime Prevention Research Center analyzed concealed-carry permits and found that from 2007-2015, permits issued to nonwhite Americans increased about 75 percent faster than those issued by state and local governments to white Americans. Note, this was before Donald Trump won the election. The analysis also found that in the states that report permit data by gender, “since 2012 the number of permits has increased by 161 percent for women and by 85 percent for men.”
It’s time for the mainstream media to let go of the boogey-man hunt and acknowledge an increasingly broad range of Americans choose to legally purchase firearms for self-protection, hunting or sport.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 12,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. For more information, visit www.nssf.org.