The United States saw its second best year ever for firearms sales.
In a report summarizing various federal statistics, SafeHome.org found that Americans purchased nearly 19 million guns in 2021 — falling somewhat behind 2020, when gun sales surpassed 21 million. Before the onset of COVID-19, the year 2016 was the strongest for firearm purchases.
Total estimated gun sales fell 13 percent between 2020 and 2021, but they remained higher than they were in 2019 (up nearly 40 percent). The total number of guns sold in 2021 is more than double the number sold in 2001; in fact, sales in the U.S. rose by about 155 percent between 2002 and 2021.
Residents of Texas and Florida led the nation in gun purchases, with 1.6 million and 1.4 million new weapons respectively. Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and South Dakota purchased the most firearms per capita, with Wyoming leading the small conservative states with 19 new guns for every 100 adults.
The report also noted an increase of gun deaths in the United States, as fatal assaults increased between 2019 and 2020.
Corresponding with high gun purchases and millions of new firearm owners is the failure of many progressive gun control measures. Support for such policies has plummeted by 15% in the last five years, driven by independents’ changing views.
Perhaps most notably, President Joe Biden failed to confirm David Chipman as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Chipman held several highly progressive views on gun policy — such as suggesting that he does not believe that the Secret Service needed to use guns, supporting bans on semi-automatic rifles, telling first-time gun owners only to use their firearms “if the zombies start to appear,” stating that he was open to the idea of allowing some convicted felons have their gun rights restored, and using dubious claims about the Waco siege to push for gun control.
Last summer, lawmakers wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) opposing Chipman’s nomination.
“Legal firearm ownership and integrity go hand-in-hand, and President Biden should not nominate anyone to lead the ATF who has repeatedly lied to further their own gun control agenda,” the letter said. “As recently as 2019, Chipman was trying to mislead the public on the basic facts of firearm ownership. When discussing firearm suppressors, he claimed, ‘The gun does not sound gun-like. It takes the edge out of the tone … this is how I would describe it: It makes a gun sort of sound like a nail gun.’ This is widely known to be false.”
As the tide has shifted against gun control, former Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke — who is currently running for governor of Texas — has dampened his zeal for firearm restrictions. In contrast to his famous comment in favor of gun control — “Hell yes, I’m going to take your AR-15, your AK-47” — O’Rourke said at a campaign stop that he is “not interested in taking anything from anyone.” Instead, he wants to “defend the Second Amendment.”
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