This year is on its way to being a record year for U.S. firearm sales. In the first two months of 2016, gun buyers and concealed carry permit applicants set records for the number of times gun dealers and state governments pinged the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). In January . . .
the FBI processed 2,545,802 NICS checks. That number easily surpassed the previous total: January of 2013’s 2,495,440 NICS checks. Both years eclipse the next highest January NICS total: 2015’s 1,772,794. The top two records are associated with President Obama’s highly publicised pushes for additional gun control.
Gun buyers and permit applicants propelled February 2016 to an even higher record: 2,613,074 NICS checks. In the history of the NICS system, only two months top that total: December 2012 (2,783,765) and December 2015 (3,314,594).
Last year, 2015, generated the highest ever number of FBI instant background checks for a year: 23,141,970. In the first 60 days of 2016, the FBI has run 5,158,87 checks. As 2016 is both a presidential election year and a leap year, firearms sales and concealed carry permits could well reach a historic high.
NICS checks correlate with an increase in private firearms stocks. In 2013, the last record year, one NICS check corresponded to .76 new private firearms. (The industry and government used the .76 ratio to extrapolate the increase in private firearms during 2014 and 2015.)
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives generates data on the actual increase in the private stock, based on the number of firearms manufactured in the United States (excluding military firearms) plus imports, minus exports. The 2014 numbers will be available soon; the 2015 numbers will be ready in about a year.
The private firearms stock in the United States likely increased by about four million guns so far this year, give or take a hundred thousand. By the end of the year, we should see some 16 to 20 million firearms added to the private stock.
The more gun control advocates push for legislative controls on firearms, the more people purchase firearms. As extraordinary and counter-intuitive as this may seem, the evidence is incontrovertible. Americans have purchased some 88.5 million firearms since the start of the Obama presidency. By the end of his presidency, the number of private firearms in the U.S. will have increased by about a third, about 106 million firearms.
That’s about 20 percent greater than the number of all the modern private firearms that existed in the United States at the beginning of the modern push for citizen disarmament in 1968, when the estimate sat at about 89 million.
If a Republican president is elected, I predict the number of NICS checks and firearms sold will drop like a rock. If a Democrat is elected, they will soar to even higher records. Given the uncertainty of a presidential race, they will remain at record or near record levels through the end of 2016.
Source for NICS numbers: From fbi.gov(pdf)
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.