The National Shooting Sports Foundation has released adjusted data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for March 2020 — and the figures were the highest for any month since record-keeping began.
March 2020 totaled 2,375,525 checks for the sale of a firearm, an increase of more than a million checks, or 80.4 percent, compared to the March 2019 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,317,114.
Other notable months for NSSF’s adjusted NICS data include 2,237,731 in December 2012 and 2,235,560 in December 2015.
The March figures helped propel first-quarter 2020 sales to a +1.4 million gain over last year. The first quarter 2020 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 4,841,126 reflects an increase of 41.8 percent over the 3,414,361 figure for first quarter 2019.
For comparison, the unadjusted March 2020 FBI NICS figure 3,709,562 reflects a 42.4 percent increase from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 2,604,927 in March 2019.
Though not a direct correlation to firearms sales, the NSSF-adjusted NICS data provide an additional picture of current market conditions. In addition to other purposes, NICS is used to check transactions for sales or transfers of new or used firearms.
It should be noted that these statistics represent the number of firearm background checks initiated through the NICS. They do not represent the number of firearms sold or sales dollars. Based on varying state laws, local market conditions and purchase scenarios, a one-to-one correlation cannot be made between a firearm background check and a firearm sale.
Also, 25 states currently have at least one qualified alternative permit, which under the Brady Act allows the permit-holder, who has undergone a background check to obtain the permit, to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer without a separate additional background check for that transfer. The number of NICS checks in these states does not include these legal transfers based on qualifying permits and NSSF does not adjust for these transfers.
Recently, the states of Alabama and Michigan had law changes that affected their Brady Law standing, which removed qualifying alternate permits usage for firearm transactions. These changes went into effect July 22, 2019 for Alabama, and March 3, 2020 for Michigan.
In March 2020, Alabama state’s NSSF-adjusted NICS was 212.1 percent higher than March 2019, which accounts for an additional 41,348 checks over this time last year. March 2020 NICS numbers for Michigan were up 210.8% over March 2019 and account for an additional 57,599 checks.