NSSF President: Gun Industry Sales Reflect a “New Normal”

From the NSSF president, via Shooting Wire:

NEWTOWN, Conn. – Last year was an extraordinary one for firearm sales, a year unlike any other in the industry’s history. That’s a fact to be mindful of when comparing estimated sales through the first seven months of 2014 with those of the previous year, notes Steve Sanetti, President and CEO of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry.

Remove the extraordinary 2013 from the rear-view mirror and sales of firearms in America still show an almost uninterrupted rise over the past 10 years, according to national background check figures adjusted by NSSF to reflect market activity. For the first seven months of 2014, total firearm sales rank as the highest in the last decade, with the one big exception of 2013 (see chart).

(A background check is mandatory for retail purchases of firearms. NSSF adjusts background check data from the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System to remove non-sales activity such as checks conducted for concealed carry permits. This results in NSSF-adjusted NICS data being a better indicator of market conditions than overall NICS data, though NSSF-adjusted NICS figures do not correlate one to one with firearm sales.)

From January through July 2014, NSSF-adjusted NICS figures total 6.95 million background checks against 6.85 million for 2012 and 5.64 million in 2011. In 2013, the seven-month figure was 8.81 million and the annual total was a record 14.8 million. Multiple factors account for last year’s sales surge, including a fear of additional firearms-ownership restrictions, which came to pass in states such as New York, Connecticut and Maryland, as well as increasing interest in owning firearms by women and former servicemen and women.

“Those who are hostile to firearms ownership are trying to suggest sales are off in 2014 because people are no longer interested in owning guns, which is contradicted when you consider sales have risen for ten years, that last year was the highest year ever and that studies show increases in first-time gun owners and women buying guns,” said NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti.

“The sky certainly is not falling,” Sanetti added. “To me, firearm sales data through the first seven months is saying our industry is experiencing a ‘new normal.’ Like a rocket ship, we’ve returned to Earth, but we haven’t gone back in time. With 2014 on track to be one of the highest sales years in a decade, I call that a sign of a healthy industry serving a passionate, growing customer base.”

Sanetti said he’s not surprised at the current sales market. “People in our business know it is hugely difficult to match a historic, unprecedented surge in customers buying all types of firearms,” he said. He pointed out that during conversations last January with representatives of exhibiting firearms companies at the industry’s annual trade show, the SHOT Show, hardly anyone was expecting sales to match the numbers those from 2013. “They were realistic in expecting and planning for a normalization,” Sanetti said.

The industry’s most active sales months-October, November and December-lie ahead, a period when purchases are made for hunting season and holiday gifts.

Said Sanetti, “Over the last decade, the market has spoken: Citizens around the country have exercised their constitutional right to purchase a great variety of firearms for target shooting, hunting and personal and home protection. I’m optimistic we’ll see a strong finish to this year. And contrary to the naysayers, both the violent crime rate and fatal accidents with firearms have decreased about 19 percent and 22 percent during the past decade which saw these great increases in the number of firearms being purchased by more Americans. That’s the most gratifying news of all.”

2013 was the biggest year ever for the US gun industry, and I doubt many people who bought guns last year have already gotten rid of them all, unlike what some would have you believe. Far from gun owners dying out, there are more now than ever before. Having said that, in this writer’s opinion, it’s good to be in a post-boom market.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


  • Ed Gunnerly

    Rhetoric like “new normal” is almost always an indicator of the market topping out. See the housing market, see the mortgage market, see the dot com bubble, etc. Love The Firearm Blog!

    • Beju

      I’m not so sure. He’s not quite cheer leading like NAR was at the peak of the market, when they were claiming that people will be spending larger and larger percentage of their income on housing (well, that may be true, but due to median real wages remaining stagnant as they have for decades, not wild price appreciation).

      Still, I’d question if even 2012 levels are sustainable without a Democrat in the White House inducing panic in many buyers.

  • Pete

    The firearms industry should lay off all their salesmen and fire all their lobbyists, and instead give money to President “my bud Valerie Jarrett needs armed Secret Service protection” Obama, Senator “concealed weapons permit and two revolvers” Feinstein, and (former) Mayor “special permission from the Bermuda government for NYPD protective detail to carry firearms in Bermuda” Bloomberg. Those hypocritical politicians and their desire to order “Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ’em all in” have done more for gun sales than anything else.

    • avconsumer2

      Indeed. Who’d a thought… Obama… greatest gun salesman in history. Probably a preferable title to others he’ll leave office with.

      • Frank

        With the panic the internet breeds, if someone like Hillary got into office, it would make Obama look like a joke.

        • avconsumer2

          Heard that. Though, if her polling numbers don’t change soon, she won’t be even be running for president of Krispy Kreme.

          • El Duderino

            Pfft. MSM calls her challenger a racist chauvinist hates-the-poor all around bad dude and presto! HRC fer prez.

  • Wiggles

    The best thing that could have ever happened to us as gunowners, there are more AR-15’s in the hands of men and women of all ages than at any other time of its near sixty year run on the market. It fills me with joy to think how pouty the leftists are over this. Also price on AR parts are at an all time low. Salad days