More than 2 million Americans became first-time gun owners in the first half of 2020, officials reported.
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The National Rifle Association tweeted the news late Wednesday, referencing data released earlier in the week by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms trade group.
The shooting foundation reported in its monthly the total number of new gun owners was actually more likely to be more than 2.5 million.
"The early part of 2020 has been unlike any other year for firearm purchases — particularly by first-time buyers — as new NSSF® research reveals millions of people chose to purchase their first gun during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Jim Curcuruto, shooting foundation's director of research and market development, said in a statement. “Not surprisingly, retailers reported an increased number of first-time gun buyers, estimating that 40 percent of their sales were to this group.”
Gun sales have skyrocketed during the past three months, and a record-breaking 80.2 percent increase in sales was reported in May compared to last year, according to the shooting foundation. April’s data showed a 71.3 percent increase from 2019, and there was an 85.3 percent increase in March, according to information previously released by Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting.
Tim Schmidt, president and founder of Wisconsin-based U.S. Concealed Carry Association said he had “mixed feelings” about the surge in first-time buyers.
"On the positive side, I'm excited that a lot of people have become new gun owners. Oftentimes, a person does not become a gun owner until something bad happens in their life… but in this situation, most of these people, nothing bad happened to them, but rather society, in general, is making them feel nervous,” Schmidt said Thursday. “I just hope that these people are taking it serious in terms of the amount of education and training and commitment that it really takes to be a responsible gun owner.”
The concealed carry association provides training education and legal assistance to more than 350,000 people, and has also reported a spike in new membership, particularly first-time owners in the previous months, a spokesperson has said.
“A gun is a very powerful tool," Schmidt said. "Good things can happen when it's used, as well as bad things, just like fire.”
He emphasized the four rules that every person should learn before becoming a first-time gun owner:
- "Never point the gun on anything you're not willing to destroy.
- "Always consider every gun loaded.
- "Never place your finger on the trigger until you're ready to shoot.
- "Always know what you're shooting at and what's behind it."
"That's the first thing: Understand the rules of gun safety," Schmidt said. "Number two is to teach your family. Teach the people that you live with those four rules and teach them to respect the tool."