According to a new industry survey, millions of Americans have become first-time gun owners during the first half of 2021, continuing an upward trend in new gun ownership. 

In the study, put out by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), an estimated 3.2 million Americans reported purchasing their first firearm. The NSSF, the firearm industry trade association, reported that nearly half of the new gun owners were under the age of 40. 

The survey was sent out to gun retailers who were members of NSSF. High percentages of retailers also said that low inventory for both guns and ammunition hurt their total sales. 

“This survey shows that there is a continuing demand signal for firearms from the American public,” said Joe Bartozzi, NSSF President and CEO in a statement. “We witnessed each month background check figures associated with a gun sale that are second only to those we saw in last year’s record-breaking totals.”

The study noted that of the 9.8 million background checks conducted for gun sales, respondents said that it was the first time purchasing a gun for about one third of their customers. 

Bartozzi added, “These survey results show not only is there a strong and healthy appetite from first-time gun buyers but that there is still room to grow. We are encouraged by the sustained interest in lawful and responsible gun ownership as well as by the manufacturing base which has been challenged to meet this remarkable demand.”

Many of the retailers also said that they noticed an increase in the amount of African American, Asian American, and Hispanic Americans purchasing firearms. 

Some analysts say that the significant number of new gun owners could have political ramifications in debates about gun control laws. 

“The survey findings suggest that increased demand among first-time buyers has continued following last year’s record-breaking estimates,” wrote Jake Fogleman at the Reload, “The continuation of this trend could have notable political effects when public support for new gun laws has started to decline.”

“Surveys underestimate the absolute level of gun ownership, mainly because gun owners are afraid their admission of gun ownership could somehow lead to the authorities seizing their guns or even arresting them for unlawful possession,” Gary Kleck, a Florida State University professor, told the Reload. 

This week, Biden withdrew his nomination for head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, one of the key agencies in enforcing gun regulation, after a bipartisan pushback.  As The Daily Wire reported, many lawmakers were concerned about nominee David Chipman’s stance on the Second Amendment and gun control.  

A group of lawmakers in the House and Senate sent a letter to Congressional leadership detailing their fears. 

Throughout his career, David Chipman has made it no secret that he is an enemy of the 2nd Amendment,” the legislators wrote, “In October 2018, Chipman argued in favor of subjecting all AR-15s and potentially all semi-automatic rifles to regulation under the National Firearms Act. As a former agent of the ATF, Chipman knows all too well that such action would effectively ban the most popular rifle in America as well as most other items regulated under the National Firearms Act.”

Biden will now need to make a new nomination for ATF head.

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