First-Time Gun Owners More Diverse, Younger, Study Says

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posted on May 14, 2023
Pandemic Accelerated

The face of gun ownership is changing fast, a welcome trend that accelerated significantly when millions of first-time gun owners joined the ranks during the pandemic and widespread violence. We see it at the gun counter and at the firing lines, putting results of National Shooting Sports Foundation studies all the way back to 2014 proudly on display.

American Rifleman recently uncovered a study from outside the firearm industry that provides a detailed look at who purchased during 2020 and 2021. The findings indicate the change in ownership demographics gained significant momentum during those tumultuous years. 

The results come from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago—not exactly a Second Amendment stronghold. “Increasing gun sales during the pandemic were driven in nearly equal parts by people purchasing a gun for the first time and existing gun owners purchasing additional firearms,” said John Roman of NORC at the University of Chicago. “New gun owners during the pandemic were much more likely to be younger and People of Color compared to pre-pandemic gun owners in America.”

Sixty-nine percent of the people who purchased a firearm for the first time during the study period were “people of color,” according to the study. Eighty-six percent were under the age of 45. Both groups are light years away from the tired gun-owner stereotype subscribed to by most media outlets.

Other details uncovered in the nationwide survey—which used the results of interviews with 1,106 adults 18 years old or older—included 46 percent of adults in the United States have a firearm in their home. One out of every 20 people who answered researchers bought a gun during the pandemic’s chaos.

There’s another change in the newfound diversity as well. “First-time gun buyers’ attitudes toward gun control look remarkably similar to those of the pre-pandemic U.S. gun owner,” Roman said. "Whether they bought a gun because of existing beliefs about gun control—or owning a gun changed their policy views—is unknown, but it is notable that the policy positions of new gun owners are so different from non-gun owners."

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