What’s Fueling the Record Sales of Guns in America?

We’re in the middle of what the New York Times has called the “great gun-buying boom that shows no sign of letting up.” And while the Democrat party spends its time demonizing firearms and those who choose to own them, millions of law-abiding Americans are leveraging their constitutional rights to protect and defend themselves.

This is perhaps no clearer than in the shift in sales from long guns, like rifles, to handguns that are designed for personal protection.

But with a surge in gun sales of this proportion, we have to ask: Why? In other words, what specifically is driving such an increase?

U.S. Gun Sales: Behind the Numbers

In July 2022, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) processed 2.4 million background check requests for the purchase of firearms. That was the third highest July on record -- marking five straight months of historically high gun sales in the United States (and nearly five years of increasing annual totals).

In 2020 and 2021, there were a combined 40 million guns sold. For perspective, there were less than 40 million combined guns sold in the five-year stretch between 2000 and 2004. And the number of guns sold in 2021 is more than twice the number sold in 2001. From 2021 to 2022, gun sales in the U.S. have risen by 155 percent.

No state sold more guns in 2021 than Texas, where there was a total of 1.6 million firearms sold. Florida and Pennsylvania followed behind. But in terms of per-capita gun sales, Wyoming ranks first (0.19 guns sold per adult 21 years or older).

Ironically enough, the District of Columbia saw the largest increase in gun purchases from 2020 to 2021 at 37 percent. Hawaii (29 percent), Iowa (25 percent), and New Jersey (25 percent) followed closely behind.

Four Reasons for the Surge in U.S. Gun Sales

While gun sales have historically increased decade by decade, the surge we’ve seen over the past two to three years is unprecedented.

As much as liberal politicians would love to highlight the unfounded evil motives of conservative citizens, the reality is that nearly every demographic -- political, geographical, racial, financial, and religious -- is buying more guns.

And there’s no singular cause for increases in gun ownership. It’s a perfect storm of factors. Let’s take a look at some of them.

  1. Global Unrest

It’s no coincidence that gun sales have dramatically increased since the start of the pandemic in 2020. Anytime you have fear on a global level, it sets off a natural defense mechanism in the hearts and minds of people.

"To me, the pandemic was the line in the sand for a lot of folks that were even anti gun, because the pandemic made you realize that you may not have food in your cabinet, there might be social unrest, there might be mob violence," says Philip Smith, founder of the National African American Gun Association.

This line of thinking seems to mesh well with the fact that the sale of handguns, not rifles, are seeing the largest year-over-year increases. In particular, Glock handguns are more popular than ever. People prefer these guns for their lightweight frame, reliability, customization potential, variety (9 mm, 10 mm, .45 ACP, .40 S&W, etc.), and ease of use.

But whether it’s Glock or another brand, the fact that people are buying handguns over long rifles shows a defense-first mentality in the minds of buyers.

  1. Mass Shootings

Mass shootings, while still not as common as the national media would like you to believe, have become national news fodder over the past few years. And any time mass shootings happen, that internal self-defense mechanism kicks in.

​​“Mass shootings are likely to boost sales if they heighten concerns over personal security, because self-protection is the most commonly cited reason for owning a firearm,” says David Studdert, professor of law and health policy at Stanford University.

So while the media might think it’s helping to push gun control initiatives by demonizing gun owners in the wake of these tragedies, they’re inadvertently driving up sales for gun manufacturers. In many ways, this perfectly highlights the massive disconnect between Washington/Ivy League “elites” and the average American voter.

  1. Threat of Tightening Policy

Gun control has been a hot topic for decades. And anytime you have a Democrat sitting in the Oval Office, gun sales increase. Once again, this has to do with feelings of fear. Liberal politicians almost always run on a policy of tighter gun control -- with some even threatening to kill off the Second Amendment.

With a Democrat sitting in the White House right now, it’s no surprise that gun purchasing activity is on the rise. It was the same for Barack Obama and Bill Clinton before him. The bigger and more outspoken the threat of tighter gun control, the more people “stock up” while they can.

  1. Tightening Supply Chain

While still historically strong, gun sales did dip slightly between 2020 and the current 2022 pace. The reason for this was the tighter supply chain. In the midst of material shortages and a shrinking labor force, many gun manufacturers had trouble keeping up with the increased demand. And while this might have hurt their 2021 numbers, it’s led to pent-up demand in 2022 (and will likely lead to a sustained surge in 2023 and beyond).

Freedom on Full Display

Gun ownership isn’t right for everyone. (You have to be comfortable with the idea of safely using a firearm if you’re going to own one.) However, if you study the trends happening beneath the surface, it’s clear that the increase in gun sales isn’t just driven by the “alt right” as CNN news anchors and radical left journalists would like you to believe.

Gun sales are happening in the heart of America by people with both red and blue political affiliations. And at this current pace, the Biden Presidency will set a record for gun sales under any four-year presidential term.

Image: RawPixel

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