10 Year NSSF-Adjusted NICS checks (courtesy nssf.org)

Press release from the National Shooting Sports Foundation:

Last year was an extraordinary one for firearm sales, a year unlike any other in the industry’s history. That’s a fact to be mindful of when comparing estimated sales through the first seven months of 2014 with those of the previous year, notes Steve Sanetti, President and CEO of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry . . .

Remove the extraordinary 2013 from the rear-view mirror and sales of firearms in America still show an almost uninterrupted rise over the past 10 years, according to national background check figures adjusted by NSSF to reflect market activity. For the first seven months of 2014, total firearm sales rank as the highest in the last decade, with the one big exception of 2013 (see chart).

(A background check is mandatory for retail purchases of firearms. NSSF adjusts background check data from the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System to remove non-sales activity such as checks conducted for concealed carry permits. This results in NSSF-adjusted NICS data being a better indicator of market conditions than overall NICS data, though NSSF-adjusted NICS figures do not correlate one to one with firearm sales.)

From January through July 2014, NSSF-adjusted NICS figures total 6.95 million background checks against 6.85 million for 2012 and 5.64 million in 2011. In 2013, the seven-month figure was 8.81 million and the annual total was a record 14.8 million. Multiple factors account for last year’s sales surge, including a fear of additional firearms-ownership restrictions, which came to pass in states such as New York, Connecticut and Maryland, as well as increasing interest in owning firearms by women and former servicemen and women.

“Those who are hostile to firearms ownership are trying to suggest sales are off in 2014 because people are no longer interested in owning guns, which is contradicted when you consider sales have risen for ten years, that last year was the highest year ever and that studies show increases in first-time gun owners and women buying guns,” said NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti.

“The sky certainly is not falling,” Sanetti added. “To me, firearm sales data through the first seven months is saying our industry is experiencing a ‘new normal.’ Like a rocket ship, we’ve returned to Earth, but we haven’t gone back in time. With 2014 on track to be one of the highest sales years in a decade, I call that a sign of a healthy industry serving a passionate, growing customer base.”

Sanetti said he’s not surprised at the current sales market. “People in our business know it is hugely difficult to match a historic, unprecedented surge in customers buying all types of firearms,” he said. He pointed out that during conversations last January with representatives of exhibiting firearms companies at the industry’s annual trade show, the SHOT Show, hardly anyone was expecting sales to match the numbers those from 2013. “They were realistic in expecting and planning for a normalization,” Sanetti said.

The industry’s most active sales months-October, November and December-lie ahead, a period when purchases are made for hunting season and holiday gifts.

Said Sanetti, “Over the last decade, the market has spoken: Citizens around the country have exercised their constitutional right to purchase a great variety of firearms for target shooting, hunting and personal and home protection. I’m optimistic we’ll see a strong finish to this year. And contrary to the naysayers, both the violent crime rate and fatal accidents with firearms have decreased about 19 percent and 22 percent during the past decade which saw these great increases in the number of firearms being purchased by more Americans. That’s the most gratifying news of all.”

About NSSF
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 10,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers.

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22 Responses to NSSF: Current Gun Sales “The New Normal”

  1. I hope to add to the numbers for this year. I’ve been biding my time waiting for prices to come down to something reasonable.

  2. There is a glut of used and new guns at my local gun shops. Lots of deals out there. And if they won’t deal-I won’t buy. If I had more( or any) $ I would go online all the way. Guns are no different than any retail business. Give us a deal.

    • There are guns in stock at my local gun stores after quite a drought, but there are no real deals, and they have taken the benefit out of internet sales by charging a $75 transfer fee on top of the $25 DROS (dealer record of sale), plus tax, which brings the price up to what they would charge for an in-store sale.

      • Same in San Diego – been that way for a few years. Internet sales have no advantage over brick and mortar other than availability, and in many cases you actually end up paying more for an only slightly better selection.

        The stinkin’ CA Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale has a LOT to do with that.

      • I don’t even know what those charges mean. I ordered a gun online for $330, paid the tax, pay $15 for shipping and $15 to my FFL. EASY. S-till comes to $385, but that’s less than the $400-450 price tag on the same gun OTC at gun shops in my area.

        Kansas is flat, but its sprinkled with a little bit of heaven.

        And hunting season is almost here. 🙂

  3. I got my first (and only) mortgage in 2007, and then bought my first (of many) gun in 2013.

    If you want financial success, just do everything I do rougly two years after I do it.

  4. “Sanetti said he’s not surprised at the current sales market. “People in our business know it is hugely difficult to match a historic, unprecedented surge in customers buying all types of firearms,” he said.”

    I don’t know why this guy is saying this because I find it hard to believe he’s serious. Counter trends in marketing are well known and it’s pretty obvious that is what’s is stimulating gun-sales. We saw something similar happen with during the 55 mph speed limit era when the artificially (and absurdly) lowered speed limits were directly responsible for creating a multi-billion dollar radar-detector industry. Long after speed limits were raised, radar-detector sales continue to be robust. Similarly—and this must drive Shannon and The Moms crazy—gun-control efforts are significantly responsible for increased gun-sales. There’s a clear counter-trend going on here. I first noticed it over a decade ago when gun-control efforts directly correlated with sharp increases in NRA memberships. What’s happened is that American culture has changed in significant ways which support increased gun-ownership. The demographics on this ought to be pretty clear. There’s now a much larger subculture of gun-owners in the US who are likely to continue to support gun sales.

  5. One of the figures I would like to see is the total for new gun sales. These figures reflect all gun sales by dealers, but not gun show sales in states that do not require NICS for private sales, and include used guns that do not increase the number of firearms in circulation.

    • I’m not sure you’ll ever find a reliable source for that type of information.

      For instance, in the example you gave, many folks might want to trade-in a used gun to reduce the cash needed to pick up that new gun. In this case (and by your definition), despite the sale of the new gun, the total number of guns in circulation did not rise, due to a trade-in at the time of sale. I’ve even seen 2-for-1, and 3-for-1 trades (done a few myself), so good luck sifting through all that info.

      I’m seeing a lot of used handguns at local gun shops and sporting-good stores locally. I think a LOT of folks are doing the trade-in thing to help finance new purchases.

    • On a related note, perhaps you could use the BATFE’s annual dealer sales info. It is split out by foreign and domestic sales, and as long as you are okay with defining a “sale” as the manufacturer selling a gun to a distributor, it might give you a better feel for total new-gun sales.

      Run a search for “ATF new gun data”, and look for the link to their statistics page, where you will find the “Annual Firearms Manufacturers And Export Report”. It lags by 2-3 years (newest one posted right now is 2011), but it may shed some light on the info you’re looking for.

  6. I bought a Sig P224 for carry, and an AR-15 (Colt LE6920, my first rifle) this year. I am still thinking about getting a good shotgun and would love an FN SCAR 17S… so many choices.

    Every time I go into the local gun store during normal hours, 3-4 people seated at the bench where they fill out the background check paperwork, so business seems to be booming still.

  7. I have done well this year: Two Garands and a K31. Couldn’t quite swing the M1 Carbine. Maybe in a couple of months.

    AZ has a wrinkle in their gun purchase law. If you have an AZ CCW, it’s cash and carry with no background check. If I understood correctly, the law applies equally to short and long arms.

  8. I did my part. M&P 15 sport yesterday; Sig Sauer 229 in May. I plan for a shotgun this Christmas, and a revolver as well. I just became a certified firearms instructor, and I plan to start training newbees soon. Almost forgot, wife plans to buy an M&P 9 next month.

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