A report released this month by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms industry, sheds more light on the underreported truth about gun sales. Here are three points brought out by the Firearms and Ammunition Industry Economic Impact Report 2014:
1. Wildlife conservation benefits from gun sales
An excise tax on guns, ammo, and hunting-related products—often called the “Pitman-Robertson Act”—means that every time someone buys a gun or a box of ammo, they are funding public ranges, endangered-species research, land conservation, and the many other uses for which states earmark these funds. In 2014 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced these taxes raised $760.9 million for conservation programs, gun ranges, and more.
Meanwhile, the money spent by gun owners helps create jobs here in the U.S. According to the report, the “total economic impact of the firearms and ammunition industry in the United States increased from $19.1 billion in 2008 to $42.9 billion in 2014, a 125 percent increase.” The NSSF also reports that “the total number of full-time equivalent jobs rose from approximately 166,000 to more than 263,000, a 58 percent increase.”
2. Gun sales are up and violent crime is down Stephen L. Sanetti, NSSF president and chief executive officer, said, “Throughout this period of growth, both criminal and accidental misuses of firearms continued to drop.” He’s right. As gun ownership in the U.S. has climbed to more than 100 million gun owners with more than 300 million firearms, the FBI has reported that violent-crime rates overall have been falling, for decades in fact.
3. Gun sales aren’t all about politics
Fears that gun-control laws might become stricter certainly helped ignite a blaze of gun sales. However, the rise in sales actually began long before Barack Obama won the presidency in November 2008. Calls into the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)—which gun dealers must do before they can sell anyone a gun—actually rose every year from 2003 to 2013, and only fell slightly in 2014. In 2003 there were 8,481,588 NICS checks nationally. In 2005 the number rose to almost 9 million. In 2006 it surpassed 10 million. In 2007 it grew to just over 11 million. In 2008 it rose to 12.7 million. In 2009 the number of NICS checks passed 14 million. In 2012 the number of background checks called into the FBI topped out at 19.5 million and in 2013 the number rose to 21,093,273. In 2014 the number fell to 20,968,547.
Many factors, aside from politics, push gun and ammo sales. These include an increased interest in the shooting sports, more women gun owners, and more people than ever are obtaining concealed-carry permits—there are now more than 12 million.