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Over 21 Million Background Checks for Firearms in 2020

Over 21 Million Background Checks for Firearms in 2020

Photo credit: courtesy the NSSF

Over 21 million background checks were conducted for the purchase of a firearm in 2020, according to new data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). Of these more than 21 million checks conducted, the NSSF estimates that 8.4 million people purchased a firearm for the first time.

If the theme of 2020 setting gun-sales records seems familiar, that’s because it is. Simply put, last year shattered records for firearm ownership month after month, and by no small margin each time. 2020 surpassed 2019’s totals by 60%, and broke the previous annual record, set in 2016, by 34%.

“The fact that more than 21 million background checks were conducted for the sales of firearms in 2020 shows just how much value the American public places in their God-given Second Amendment rights,” said Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the NSSF.

The sheer resiliency of the American people is also on display here, as COVID-19 introduced a myriad of challenges throughout our country last year. Not to be deterred, the American people exercised the right to keep and bear arms in record-shattering numbers amidst a global pandemic, civil unrest, and with a staunchly anti-Second Amendment administration potentially on the horizon.

“This occurred under the most challenging 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,” said Oliva.

The NSSF-adjusted data more accurately represents the number of firearms purchased in background checks by factoring out checks conducted by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) unlikely to be used in the purchase of a firearm.

Oliva also said that these figures could very well have been even higher had distributors not run low on inventory. In short, the demand was so high that in many places, it blew out the supply.

“Retail shelves are still sparse, telling use there is still a strong demand and that elevated levels of firearm sales could continue for some time,” said Oliva. 

Should Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and other anti-freedom politicians seek to enact policies that are detrimental to our rights, 2021 may very well follow the trend. Regardless, Americans should continue to exercise their constitutional rights and to reach out to others who may not fully grasp, literally and figuratively, the importance of these rights yet.

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