Sales of firearms skyrocketed during the pandemic, with more than four million guns sold legally in January this year representing a 60% increase according to USA Today. Illinois had the highest sales at slightly more than a million guns, followed by Kentucky with more than 400,000 guns. Experts predict that gun sales for 2021 can reach almost 50 million. This comes after gun sales in 2020 increased by 40% to almost 40 million.
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), gun sales spiked in March 2020, at the start of the pandemic. The NSSF reports that almost five million guns sold in 2020 went to people who purchased their first gun, representing 40% of all guns bought last year. Mark Peter Smith, CEO of Smith & Wesson Brands, told Reuters that this is twice the national average of first-time gun owners in previous years. Within this group, 40% of buyers in 2020 were women.
Various reports state that there is a widespread scarcity of guns and ammunition, with manufacturers unable to meet the level of demand. People are checking shops frequently, hoping to chance upon deliveries.
Gun shop owner Ken Shields told The Blade that at the start of the pandemic, the demand was for handguns and shotguns. Now there is a higher demand for ArmaLite rifles (ARs) with order backlogs from four-to-six weeks to several months. Another gun shop owner, Mike Felstein, added that semi-automatic rifles and military rifles are still in strong demand.
Gun Training and Safety
Firearms instructors report that many of their current students did not like guns before but felt the need to own one under present conditions. Their fears of uncertainties during the pandemic outweighed their fear of guns. They expressed the need to be ready to protect their families and themselves. Those who are taking classes on the use of firearms include senior citizens.
It is important, especially for first-time buyers, to learn how to keep and use firearms properly. Even employees or customers could get hurt by guns while inside gun stores; that is why these stores need gun shop liability insurance.
Many classes are offering in-person training for safe, ethical, and responsible shooting. Choose one with a firing range so that you can do actual practice shooting. This must be the first step for a first-time gun owner, even before buying a gun. You must know how to handle it before you even own it to avoid mishaps. For instance, you will learn that you must never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) offers home firearm safety courses that also include information on how to store firearms and ammunition securely at home. This is essential so that they are out of reach of children and minors. The NRA also offers pistol courses, rifle training courses, shotgun training courses, and personal protection courses.
Buying a Gun
Federal regulation according to the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) only allows the sale of shotguns or rifles and ammunition to citizens and legal residents who are at least 18 years old. To purchase other types of firearms, you need to be 21 years old or older. Officials at the local or state levels can increase age restrictions but cannot lower them.
Based on the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993, an amendment to the 1968 Gun Control Act, the gun seller with a Federal Firearms License (FFL) must conduct a background check on every potential gun buyer. You will fill up ATF 4473, a federal form used to check with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Some states combine a check with the NICS and state agency information.
The background check filters out fugitives, those considered as dangerous to society, those who have been involuntarily committed to mental institutions, convicted felons with a jail sentence of more than a year, those with misdemeanors of more than two years, and those who unlawfully possessed or used controlled substances within the past year.
It also blocks dishonorably discharged military personnel; unauthorized migrants; those who have restraining orders for harassment, stalking, or threatening; those who renounced US citizenship; and those who are on a temporary visit on nonimmigrant visas.
The background check typically takes 10 minutes and returns with instructions to approve, deny or delay the sale. If there is a delay of more than three days, the FFL holder has the discretion to complete the sale.
A few states require a permit to purchase handguns. In California, you must pass a written test and take a gun safety class to get a purchase permit.
As a new gun owner, you must keep informed on the laws and regulations covering gun-owning and carrying. If you intend to bring your gun outside your locality, you must also widen your knowledge.
You must know what states require permits to carry handguns, and what states do not. Some have different rules on concealed carrying and open carrying. Some states do not allow gun owners to carry guns licensed in a different state.
Remember that a gun is a weapon and as a gun owner you must be responsible and accountable.