(CNN BUSINESS) — It’s been an unprecedented year for the firearms industry, which has seen a steady, pandemic-related surge in sales since Covid-19-related lockdowns began in March.

Gun retailers and industry analysts say its normal for Americans to stock up on firearms and ammo during an election year. In many cases, the analysts say, the surge is motivated by fears that a Democratic president might expand restrictions on gun ownership.

But this year’s sales spike is different because it’s being driven by a rise in first-time gun buyers, especially among African Americans and women.

About 40% of gun sales in the first four months of the year were made by first-time buyers — far higher than the annual average of 24% over the past two decades, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association that tracks gun sales and analyzes industry trends.

Gun sales among Black