Gun Laws & Legislation

21 Million Background Checks And 8 Million New Gun Owners

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By Mark Oliva

The fact that more than 21 million background checks were conducted for the sale of a firearm in 2020 shows just how much value the American public places in their God-given Second Amendment rights. This record year surpassed 2019’s totals by 60 percent and the previous record of 2016 by 34 percent. NSSF estimates that more than 8.4 million people legally purchased a firearm for the first time in 2020.

This occurred under the most challenging of circumstances. Law-abiding Americans demanded to exercise their right to lawfully purchase, keep and bear arms. Some governors, mayors and even Members of Congress actively stood in the way of that and didn’t relent until faced with court action. At the same time, workers in these firearm and ammunition factories, distributors, retailers and ranges made adjustments to keep their workforce safe and protected from infection while keeping pace with the demand of the American public. That’s a testament to the determination of the American worker that makes our freedoms possible.

It is arguable that background check figures could be higher, had inventory been fuller. Retail shelves are still sparse, telling us there is still a strong demand and that elevated levels of firearm sales could continue for some time. Pursuit of restrictions on gun rights or targeting of the firearm industry by the Biden administration will only signal that this will be an administration that won’t seek to support and protect American rights, but will cater to special interest groups that seek to disarm law-abiding Americans. Should that occur, I anticipate the growth of first-time gun buyers and overall firearm sales will be closer to what was seen in 2020 than in previous years.

Mark Oliva is Director of Public Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industries. He is a retired Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant with 25 years of service, including tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Albania, and Zaire.