Perceived wisdom has held that firearms sales fell drastically after President Trump was elected. But the so-called “Trump slump” hasn’t happened. Yes, increased production has driven down prices. But sales remain strong. While President Obama may have been the greatest firearms salesman of all time, President Trump’s first year is likely to beat all of President Obama’s eight years in office, except for the last one.
Trump-era NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) checks are continuing the trend set last year. 2017 is on track to be the second highest year for NICS on record.
2016 is the current record holder, with 27,538,673 NICS checks for the year. The next highest year was in 2015, with 23,141,970. 2,030,391 NICS checks were done in October, 2017. Through the end of October, the NICS checks for 2017 have reached 20,266,289.
November and December have traditionally been the highest months for NICS checks, correlating with hunting seasons and Christmas. 2017 only needs to accumulate 2,875,681 NICS checks in the last two months of the year to become the second highest year on record. Every year since 2010 has exceeded that number for November and December.
It is more likely that the totals for November and December in will be over four million checks. They have been over four million for four of the last five years. Four million more NICS checks would be over 24 million checks for the year.
2017 NICS checks have been at 91% of the level of the all time record in 2016.
NICS checks are used for both new and used firearms sales. They are used for other purposes as well. Firearms carry permits are rapidly expanding across the United States, with over 16 million carry permits currently in use. NICS checks are used for both initial issue of a permit and for the renewal of permits. Some NICS checks are used for background checks for employment.
Because of the expanding use of NICS checks, the number of firearms added to private stock in the United States is a fraction of the NICS checks. Past calculations based on ATF records indicate that about .56 firearms are added to the private stock in the United States for each NICS check done by the FBI.
If that ratio holds, about 1.1 million firearms will have been added to the private stock in October, or about 11.3 million firearms added in 2017 so far.
It appears the demand for firearms has grown and the number of firearms owners has grown. Polls are a poor way to determine firearms ownership. Many people are reluctant to admit to firearms ownership when there is serious talk of restricting the ability to own or buy firearms.
A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal survey shows gun ownership jumping from 41 to 48 percent of households. That increase includes a component of gun owners who are willing to admit ownership during a Trump administration. It also indicates an increase in the base level of firearm ownership. Once a new owner buys a gun, they are likely to buy more guns, with different guns for different purposes.
In two months we will know if 2017 becomes the second highest year on record for NICS checks. We do not know at present, but that is the way to bet.
©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.