Hey, gun owners. I know you’ve been paying attention to what’s been going on around us these last few crazy months. With the global pandemic, mask mandates, school delays, closed businesses, protests, looting and riots, things have been a bit uncertain, at best. And apparently, nothing makes Americans more uncomfortable than seeing their local Starbucks on fire, so vast numbers of people have been stockpiling toilet paper and frozen foods … and buying guns and ammo.

The Numbers

Firearms sales have been soaring this year, with record numbers reported by the FBI. NSSF-adjusted NICS checks for January 2020 through July 2020 show a record 12.1 million, which is up 71.7 percent from the 7.1 million NSSF-adjusted NICS from January through July of last year. A photo showing a long line of people waiting outside a California gun shop is likely to become one of the most recognizable images from this “unprecedented time.” And ammunition is also in short supply, with bare shelves in gun stores nationwide (and online) driven by high demand and even higher anxiety. And it doesn’t appear to be slowing down. According to recent surveys conducted by the NSSF, retailers report that they are seeing a 95 percent increase in firearms sales and a 139 percent increase in ammunition sales compared to the same period from 2019.

The Opportunities

In the midst of all the bulk-buying and panic-purchasing, there’s been a pretty astonishing (and pretty awesome) statistic that has emerged: We’ve added more than 5 million new gun owners since the beginning of 2020, with numbers likely to increase, especially with a presidential election right around the corner. That’s an enormous number! And, just to clarify, that’s not 5 million guns added in the last few months; that’s 5 million brand-new gun owners.

And with this mass influx of new folks, we — the gun community — have an incredible opportunity to be ambassadors for and examples of the Second Amendment. More so now than ever before, this is our time to model, share and spread safe and responsible gun ownership. This is our time to show support for our Constitution, for our country and for one another. This is our chance to answer questions, offer advice, debunk myths, demystify unknowns, hold classes and listen. And right now, we have more than just a chance to share gun safety rules and firearms basics; we have an opportunity to advance the responsibly armed lifestyle while demolishing old stereotypes and showing the changing face of firearms.

The Changes

What does all this mean? It means that we now have an extraordinary opportunity to reshape the entire gun debate! Those who once claimed to be anti-gun now see the significance of having options for home protection and self-defense. Those who once said guns were only for people who want to harm and destroy now see that firearms are for people who care about protecting life and liberty. And those who once pushed for gun control now see how those rules and restrictions only hurt law-abiding citizens. As more and more Americans realize the importance of taking control of their own safety, more and more will realize that the right to protect themselves and their loved ones is not a political matter. It’s a people matter. And it’s a right everyone can — and should — respect, support and put to use.