A “tectonic shift” for gun manufacturers and a “complete transformation of today’s gun-owning community.” That’s how Larry Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation describes the absolutely incredible growth in new gun owners in 2020.
Just a few months ago, the NSSF estimated that between January and June of this year, as many as 2-million Americans had purchased a firearm for the first time. Now the firearms industry trade group says that number has grown to nearly 5-million Americans, and on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, Keane tells me that he believes these new gun owners will be a potent force on Election Day in November.
Based on surveys with firearm retailers, the NSSF estimates that nearly half of all new gun purchasers this year are women, and the organization says gun store owners and employees are also seeing a sharp increase in the number of gun owners across all racial demographics as well.
Will these new gun owners show up at the polls on Election Day, and if so, will the Second Amendment play a role in how they cast their vote? The scribes at Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun news outlet The Trace are trying to reassure their readers that the vast majority of gun owners aren’t Second Amendment defenders, and that there’s no real cause for concern for the gun banners.
“One source of the NRA’s power is the myth that most gun owners will be out there with their AR-15s in response to any proposed gun control measure” said Michael Siegel, a public health researcher at Boston University. “And that’s just not true.”
Siegel recently surveyed a nationally representative panel of 2,000 legal gun owners. He found that less than 3 percent of respondents reported having been involved in any political activity related to gun rights in the prior month or having donated to a gun rights group. Less than 14 percent had visited a gun range during the same period.
“Most gun owners— the overwhelming majority of them — are not involved in gun-related activities,” Siegel said. “They don’t hunt, go to the range, engage in Second Amendment advocacy. They are purchasing for self-defense, and once they do, the gun often gets stored away.”
That may be true in normal circumstances, but the times we live in are anything but normal these days. As Larry Keane said during today’s discussion, it’s true that not every new gun owner is going to become politically active in defense of their Second Amendment rights, but given the fact that gun sales have soared since riots and civil unrest have become an increasingly common phenomenon in some American cities this summer, it seems likely that the right of self-defense will be on the minds of a good number of these new gun owners. According to a new Pew Research poll, violent crime is now the fifth biggest issue for voters, with 59% of registered voters saying it was either “very important” or “somewhat important” in deciding between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.
That figure diverged significantly when the voters were separated between Biden supporters and Trump supporters. According to the survey, 46% of registered voters who say they are supporting Biden, said violent crime was an issue for them. By contrast, 74% of Trump supporters said violent crime was “very important” to their vote in November.
That’s good news for the Trump campaign, and suggests that, despite the claims by The Trace, gun owners could have an outsized impact on both the presidential election and on down-ticket races. There’s also the fact that hundreds of thousands of Americans want to purchase a firearm, but have so far been unable to do so because of the screwy gun laws in places like Illinois and New Jersey, where there are huge backlogs of applicants waiting to be approved for a gun permit that will allow them to purchase a firearm. How many of those folks will be ticked off enough at having to wait months to exercise a constitutionally-protected right that it impacts their vote? It won’t be all of them, but I’m guessing a sizeable number of would-be gun owners cast a vote in support of their right to keep and bear arms, and against the anti-gun agenda that’s keeping them disarmed while criminals seem to illegally get and use firearms with little or no effort at all.