With all that went down in 2020, between the pandemic, the massive BLM protests and a divisive presidential election, it should really come as no surprise that last year was a record-setter for gun sales in America. The world was upending and accordingly, 21 million firearms were sold in this country — a 60% increase over 2019, to match the 60% increase in uncertainty that fueled it.

What is surprising, however, is the fact that most of those sales were made by two demographics that haven’t typically been associated with firearm ownership or use: women and black Americans.

You hear that, all you straight white conservative American males out there? You aren’t the only ones buying guns anymore! Other demographics are arming up — which is both wise of them, and unsettling at once. With all the chatter of Civil War that’s been rippling through the internet and media, this trend speaks to the zeitgeist of our times. Americans, fearing an uncertain and potentially violent future, are arming themselves, to protect their families and their property.

According to an analysis of done by the National Shooting Sports Foundation: “8.4 million people bought a firearm for the first time in 2020. That’s 40% of all purchases. This year’s buyer is increasingly diverse too. Forty percent of 2020’s buyers were women and the biggest increase of any demographic category was among African Americans, who bought guns at a rate of 58% greater than in 2019.”

Guns were flooding out of stores from March to December of last year, into the hands of first-time buyers. Into the hands of demographics that have historically been under-armed and out-gunned by their white male counterparts. And a lot of them are discovering a passion for firearms they didn’t know they had.

Browse pages or subreddits like r/liberalgunowners (a page that has 123,000 subscribers) and you’ll find post after post of delighted women and African Americans flashing their new purchases and expressing their satisfaction:

As A Black Woman In This Country, I Feel I Need To Bear Arms from r/liberalgunowners

Another gay-ass woman getting her CC Permit! M&P Shield, here I come from r/liberalgunowners

Trans Lesbian Couple— How the h*ll do we find a gun range from r/liberalgunowners

Black Female, liberal, and very armed. Took the revolver out today. Shot those messy .38 specials. from r/liberalgunowners

Adding to the insane rate of gun sales last year, there was also a run on ammunition. Starting around April ammo shelves across the country were going barren. People were buying up .223, 9mm and .22-LR so fast producers couldn’t keep up. They shifted their production, making fewer of the less-popular caliber rounds (like .30-30, .30-06, .357 and .50) so that they could make more of the popular stuff.

Some have blamed ammo manufacturers for stockpiling ammo, to drive market prices up. However, according to production companies, it’s simply a math problem: if every single one of America’s 8.4 million new gun owners bought just two boxes of ammo each, that would equate to 840 million rounds. And that’s not calculating in all the prior-gun-owners who have been stockpiling ammo all year in preparation for the apocalypse, the second American Civil War, a Chinese attack, and/or general home defense during a pandemic.

All of which, has made it both challenging and expensive to get your hands on ammo — particularly for handguns and semi-automatic assault-style rifles.

While this news might sound grim to many, it’s not all bad. Not only does it suggest that American firearms manufacturers and retailers are still getting business during these hard economic times, but it also means that minority demographics are finally arming themselves. We live in a country that allows it’s citizens to bear arms, legally, as one of our “God-given” rights — and with racial tensions on the rise, and insurrectionists attempting to literally overthrow our democracy, why wouldn’t women and black Americans want to own firearms?

Now more than ever, it seems pertinent for them, specifically, to do so.

It will be interesting to see whether this trend keeps up, or if it will begin to subside now that the presidential election is officially, indisputably over. Will women and black Americans continue to buy guns?

If those liberal gun owner pages are anything to go by, the answer to that question is Yes. People, who otherwise would have never picked up a gun, are discovering that they really like them. They’re discovering a passion for firearms and marksmanship, and they’re realizing the level of protection (and comfort that comes with it) afforded to them by guns.