The ending months of 2012 and early 2013 were a frustrating and frantic time for many gun enthusiasts seeking to buy firearms, and it seems that returning customers weren’t the only ones fueling the demand for guns.
New gun owners across the country have attributed to a massive sales boom for the firearm industry. A recent survey by the National Shooting Sports Foundation found that 84 percent of retailers increased their profits in 2012 from the previous year. Sellers also reported that 25.8 percent of their customers were first-time buyers, compared with 25 percent in 2011 and 20.8 percent in 2010.
“The data is very interesting, and represented a continuation of trends seen in the last few years,” Mike Bazinet, Director of Public Affairs at the NSSF, told OutdoorHub. “…we’ve seen a decade-long interest in the shooting sports and it reflects the fact that women are increasingly interested in shooting than ever before. People in general, through their friends or social media or whatever reason, are coming to the sport.”
For the third year in a row the number of female gun owners increased significantly, and that is without accounting for 2013, which saw some of most intense activity by retailers in recent years. Sturm, Ruger & Co. reported 53 percent higher profits in Q1 and similar increases in sales while Cabela’s boasted a 73 percent profit increase in its first quarter performance.
Background checks, a popular litmus test for firearms demand, have soared past expectations. According to Fox News, in just the first five months of 2013 the number of background checks conducted in the nation exceeded 10 million. January and February of this year saw a 53 percent increase over the same time period in 2012. The question on everyone’s minds now is, how long will this boom last?
“We continue to expect that sales would remain strong, demand for firearms remains high and back orders are still being filled,” Bazinet added. “Nobody expect this high demand to last forever, but it seems to still be strong. We have began receiving indications that the ammunition shortage is loosening but we’re still waiting. It is preferable that growth be steady and predictable, although obviously everyone is appreciative of the orders that the manufacturers are getting. ”
In the political world however, early 2013 was also a battlefield for state gun rights. In addition to New York, several other states have passed their own gun control packages into law, including traditionally gun-friendly Colorado. This caused some of the country’s longest standing firearm manufacturers to consider moving from their homes. Among companies that are already moving such as Magpul and PTR Industries, Connecticut’s Colt Manufacturing, and Beretta in nearby Maryland are also feeling pressed in by the new laws, which include bans on “assault weapons” and high capacity magazines. Other states eagerly welcome gun makers and the economic benefits that come with them. Texas Governor Rick Perry recently set out on a trip to Connecticut and New York in order to court some of the nation’s oldest names in the industry.
More information on the NSSF’s Firearms Retailer Survery can be found here.