The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) found that at least 5.4 million people purchased a firearm for the first time in 2021. Nearly 30 percent of all firearm purchases in 2021 were sold to new gun owners, based on NSSF retailer surveys and adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background checks.

That figure is a 10 percent decrease from the 40 percent of first-time gun buyers it found in similar surveys the organization conducted in 2020. More than 21 million background checks occurred for the sale of a firearm then, with over 8.4 million of those estimated to be for first-time gun buyers. 

“We welcome these new gun owners to the greater community of law-abiding Americans who choose to own a firearm for lawful purposes, including self-defense, recreational target shooting and hunting,” said Joe Bartozzi, NSSF president and CEO. “The surveys revealed that new gun owners are continuing to embrace their Second Amendment rights, and nearly half of them are seeking out professional training. These trends show that not only is there still a strong interest in gun ownership but also that these new gun owners are interested in learning more about the safe and responsible handling, use and storage of firearms.”

Similar retailer surveys in 2020 showed a 58 percent increase in African-Americans buying guns in 2020 versus 2019, with a 49 percent increase in Hispanic Americans during the same period and a 43 percent increase in Asian-Americans buying firearms in 2020 compared to 2019. Nearly 60 percent of retailers said the growth of these demographic groups of first-time buyers purchasing guns remains unchanged from 2020 to 2021.

NSSF’s 2021 survey of retailers offered other key findings:

  • Nearly 47 percent of first-time gun buyers in 2021 inquired about training, and 43 percent signed up for training;
  • Nearly 23 percent of retailers indicated that first-time gun buyers in 2020 purchased another firearm in 2021;
  • Over 33 percent of first-time gun buyers in 2021 were women;
  • 44 percent of retailers saw an increase in African-Americans purchasing firearms in 2021;
  • Nearly 40 percent of retailers saw a rise in Hispanic-Americans purchasing firearms in 2021;
  • Over 27 percent of retailers saw an increase in Asian-Americans purchasing firearms in 2021;
  • Over 18 percent of retailers saw a rise in Native Americans purchasing firearms in 2021; and
  • Nearly 14 percent of retailers saw an increase in Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders purchasing firearms in 2021.