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3 Reasons Why Americans Bought Nearly 20 Million Guns Last Year

More than 18.5 million guns were sold in the United States in 2021, according to a journalistic analysis of FBI data.


When it comes to the contentious debate over gun control, Americans appear to be voting with their wallets.


Gun sales last year nearly equalled the all-time record set in 2020, gun news publication The Reload reported Wednesday, citing the federal background check database.

Sales were down 12% compared to 2020, but up 40% from 2019, when 14 million guns were purchased.

  • “The fact that over 18.5 million Americans chose to lawfully purchase a firearm in 2021 is indicative of the value Americans hold of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms,” Mark Oliva, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation told The Reload.


A combination of short and long-term factors played a role in establishing what Reload founder Stephen Gutowski described as “a new base level of demand” for yearly gun sales.

Civil unrest: The widespread riots in the wake of George Floyd’s death sparked a rash of gun-buying.

COVID-19: Lockdowns and pandemic uncertainty led to Americans hoarding more than just toilet paper and grocery store essentials.

  • “To me, the pandemic was the line in the sand for a lot of folks that were even anti gun, because the pandemic made you realize that you may not have food in your cabinet, there might be social unrest, there might be mob violence,” Philip Smith, the head of the National African American Gun Association, told CNN in June.

President Joe Biden: Fears of more stringent firearms laws had gun owners flocking to stores after Biden was elected and Democrats narrowly took control of Congress.

  • “The threat of new restrictions on gun ownership, a traditional driver of sales spikes, likely motivated 2021 buyers as President Joe Biden (D.) pursued aggressive new gun-control measures through both legislation and unilateral executive action,” Gutowski wrote.

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