Don Mallicoat

Identifying the first time gun buyer


By Don Mallicoat –

Just about everyone in the sporting world is aware of all the gun buying that’s been going on over the last six month. Well, it’s not been only by existing gun owners. We’ve experienced in our shop a huge influx of first time gun buyers, primarily for self or home defense. A study commissioned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) reveals that first-time gun buyers are largely active in one or more shooting activities and that women are motivated to purchase their first firearm predominately for personal defense.

The study, “NSSF Report: First-Time Gun Buyer,” was done to help determine the motivations for the first firearm purchase and how these firearms are being used. The online research was conducted March through April 2013 and involved consumers aged 22 to 65 who bought their first firearm during 2012.

Key findings include: The majority of first-time buyers (60.3 percent) tend to be active, using their gun once per month or more, with one in five reporting usage of once a week or more; Target shooting is by far the most popular shooting activity among first-time gun owners, with 84.3 percent of respondents saying they used their firearms for this purpose, followed by hunting (37.7 percent) and plinking (27.4 percent). Practical pistol shooting (17.3 percent) and clay-target shooting (14.6 percent) were shooting sports also enjoyed by first-time buyers; First-time gun owners who have participated in hunting (53.2 percent), practical pistol shooting (46.3 percent), clay-target sports (44.0 percent) and gun collecting (42.4 percent) said they want to increase their participation in these activities.

The top-ranking factors driving first-time gun purchases are home defense (87.3 percent), self-defense (76.5 percent) and the desire to share shooting activities with family and friends (73.2 percent). Women, in particular, are highly focused on personal defense and self-sufficiency. Older first-time buyers–the 55 to 65 age group–indicated concern that firearms may no longer be available to them was one of many reasons for their purchase. These statistics mirror our experience at the store. One of the more important points is that even though someone starts out simply with self-defense in mind, at some point they do become active target shooters.

Most first-time buyers purchased their guns through local gun shops (43.6 percent) and mass retailers such as Walmart and Cabela’s (33.6 percent). First-time gun buyers spent an average of $515 for their first gun and nearly as much as for accessories ($504). Nearly a quarter of first-time buyers bought at least one more firearm within the first year after their first purchase spending more, on average, on the later purchase.

This is great news from the NC WRC and might I say long overdue considering how North Carolina considers itself to be a military friendly state. Under a new law that goes into effect July 1, military personnel who are not residents of North Carolina and would like to hunt, fish or trap in the state can purchase a short-term or annual license at resident prices. I’m assuming they will have to show their both their military and state ID to purchase a license. We are a license agent and have not received guidance yet but if it’s different we’ll let you know.

Non-resident military personnel must be active duty at the time they purchase their resident licenses. They also must comply with all reporting, regulatory and hunter safety requirements, including registering big game harvests, as mandated by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, and purchasing any federal migratory waterfowl stamps, as required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “North Carolina has made it a priority to be one of the most military-friendly states in the Union,” said Sen. Harry Brown of Onslow County, who introduced the bill. “In a small way, this bill will continue to move our state in that direction on quality-of-life issues for our active duty military.”

As of this reporting, the Omnibus Gun Bill, H. 937, is in the House Committee on Rules, Calendars, and Operations. I’m assuming that to mean the Senate version of the Bill was approved by the House Conference Committee and should be on its way to a floor vote. This is the bill that amends current law to allow restaurant carry, carry on University property, and the Senate addition of removing the requirement for pistol purchase permits. That last requirement is getting resistance from the Attorney General and Sherriff’s Association so we’re not of sure the final result. We’ll let you know when we know.

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