Americans Bought an Astonishing Number of Guns in 2020


Americans bought a record number of firearms in 2020 amid a year that challenged our conventional wisdom about civil liberties, showed us the delicate balance between law and order and even strained the country’s supply chains.

While gun sales generally increase in presidential election years, 2020 has been one for the record books, and it still isn’t over. President Donald Trump has vowed to continue fighting to challenge the Nov. 3 election results that show he lost to Democrat Joe Biden in a number of key swing states.

Additionally, many states still have their residents under the thumb of some form of draconian lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While the waves of civil unrest, rioting and looting that overtook many cities in the country over the spring and summer has subsided, those events, too, reminded us of the importance of exercising our Second Amendment rights to buy and own firearms.

Collectively, Americans bought an estimated 21 million guns this year, an increase of 73 percent from 2019, according to an analysis of FBI background check data from the anti-firearms sales watchdog group The Trace.

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Using information from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and applying methodology to how many of those checks generally equate to gun sales historically, the outlet estimated more than 21 million legal gun sales occurred from January to Nov, 30.

The biggest month for actual firearms sales was June, when The Trace estimated 2.7 million guns were sold. Nearly 1 million of those were estimated to be shotguns or rifles, while more than 1.7 million were estimated to be handguns.

The following month, in July, an estimated 2.5 million guns were sold. The numbers for long guns and handguns sold were nearly identical to those in June, The Trace found.

The surge in sales began in March, when an estimated 2 million guns were sold, according to The Trace. That number dwarfed the 1.1 million that were estimated sold in February. March was, of course, the first month of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.

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In November, Americans bought an estimated 1.7 million guns, compared to the 1.1 million sold during the same month in 2019, according to The Trace.

The Trace was originally funded by Everytown for Gun Safety, the anti-gun group established by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, according to the liberal site website HuffPost. The tone of its gun sale piece makes it clear The Trace finds nothing to celebrate about the sale of so many guns, but of course, the groaning of leftists is generally cause for celebration among rational people. That is definitely the case here.

Arguably, there might have been more guns sold in the country this year if it weren’t for shortages of weapons and ammunition. If you’ve ventured into a gun or sporting good store since summer, you’ve probably seen barren shelves and walls. Both guns and ammo seem to be in short supply nationwide.

The American Rifleman publication, which is owned by the National Rifle Association, reported this month that a national shortage of ammunition is expected to last well into 2021.

“We have cleaned inventory in all retail and wholesale locations,” Vista Outdoor CEO Christopher Metz said on a recent company earnings call, according to The American Rifleman.

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“Despite us producing flat out for six months, there is no buildup of inventory at any of our customers. In fact, every one of them would like significantly more. Simply put, consumer demand continues to outpace our ability to supply,” Metz also said.

Vista Outdoor produces a number of popular ammunition brands, including CCI, Remington and American Eagle.

Another metric for looking at Americans’ interest in exercising their Second Amendment rights this year are raw NICS background checks. The numbers, while they don’t always equate to final sales of guns, are astounding.

The FBI reported that in the first 11 months of 2020, a stunning 35.7 million background checks were conducted in the country. For some context, only 27.5 million such checks were conducted in all of 2016, the year anti-gun Democrat Hillary Clinton was expected to win the presidential election.

Now, after a harrowing year and faced with the prospect of an anti-gun Democrat in the House in Biden, Americans are still buying firearms at record numbers, and those numbers could arguably be sagging due to the gun industry’s inability to keep up with the demand.

Biden, of course, has vowed sweeping new firearms laws, including banning high-capacity magazines and outlawing so-called “weapons of war” or “assault weapons,” which are essentially just sporting rifles, and he has promised to require universal background checks for all gun transfers. These intrusive proposals and more are on his website.

Biden and Democrats are seeking to wage a war on individual liberties through banning some weapons and accessories, and through making others cost-prohibitive. Perhaps the growing popularity of guns will give Biden and his Democratic Party cause for hesitation, should they get full government control next month.

Americans of all backgrounds discovered the benefits of gun ownership this year, though. While the surge did not occur in the best of circumstances, appreciation for the Second Amendment right now seems unparalleled compared to any other time on record.

That is welcome news for Americans who enjoy shooting for sport, hunting or for those who simply like to be in a position to protect themselves from threats.

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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.