Pointing to a presidential candidate who has vowed to bring down firearms manufacturers, along with “riots and civil unrest,” a lack of police response, the uncertainty stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and talk of mandatory buybacks, the head of the National Shooting Sports Foundation says Americans have been rushing to gun shops in record numbers.
NSSF President Joe Bartozzi explained it during a presentation over the weekend for the “virtual” Gun Rights Policy Conference. He reported skyrocketing National Instant Check System (NICS) checks during the first six months of this year that eclipsed NICS checks during the same period last year by 71 percent.
Forty percent of all the people purchasing firearms this year have been first-time buyers, Bartozzi said. That roughly amounts to 5 million new gun owners, and 2.5 million of those bought their guns between March and May.
Nearly half of those first-timers are in the 40-and-under age group, and almost half of those people are age 30 and under, Bartozzi detailed.
“Of all the guns sold to first-time buyers,” he added, “40 percent were sold to women and personal protection was by far the main purpose driver.”
All of the factors leading to the increased gun sales amount to “a perfect storm,” Bartozzi observed.
What about these new gun owners? Will they become “gun voters?”
While Bartozzi couldn’t guarantee that, he said NSSF has mounted a program called “Gun Vote,” aimed at getting gun owners registered to vote. The project also educates “gun voters” on candidates’ positions.
He noted a recent NSSF survey of likely voters in 18 swing states revealed more than half of the respondents oppose gun bans and say the primary reason for gun ownership is home protection and self-defense.
“Nearly three quarters said they would support candidates who embrace true gun safety,” he added.
Bartozzi told his audience that it is important for long-time gun owners to embrace these new people, let them know they are welcome in the firearms community.
To that end, a subsequent presentation by Glen Caroline, director of External Affairs for the Second Amendment Foundation, provided viewers with more advice on bringing new gun owners into the gun rights community.
“Gun owners will be an important voting bloc in 2020,” he said. “This presents a great opportunity to transform new gun owners into gun rights activists.”
Caroline discussed SAF’s Second Amendment First Responder program, designed to expand the grassroots network of gun rights activists. They can become what Caroline called “force multipliers” by reaching out to family and friends and getting them involved in the Second Amendment cause.
“Make sure you are registered to vote,” he stressed.
If someone has moved to a new residence in the recent past, or since they last voted, it is important to register at the new address.
Another tool is texting; sharing messages, news stories and other information with a group of people. He said increasing numbers of people get news and information via social media, and take action as a result. His advice was to post news releases and alerts from SAF and other sources.
Writing letters to the editor of local newspapers is also important. Caroline reminded people to check letter guidelines with each newspaper and stick with them.
Find out about the 2A First Responder program by visiting SAF.org, going to the Protect Our Rights tab and scroll down to the 2A First Responder tab, which is at the top of that list.
SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb told Liberty Park Press the weekend Gun Rights conference was an overwhelming success. He estimated more than 300,000 people watched over the weekend, and that number will go up as more people watch the segments on YouTube or other platforms.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled NSSF President Joe Bartozzi’s last name. We apologize for the error.