NRA-ILA: What ‘Trump Slump’? Gun Sales Up!

Gun Counter Sales Girl

The NRA-ILA writes [via]:

We’ve covered – and debunked – the claims that firearms sales are significantly declining under the Trump Administration. The latest FBI report on NICS checks for March 2017 should help put any lingering claims about the “Trump Slump” to bed.  

The total number of NICS checks, nationwide, is up about 9% from February 2017 which was itself a nearly 10% increase over January 2017. The total number of NICS checks, nationwide, is up about 9% from February 2017 which was itself a nearly 10% increase over January 2017.

NICS checks aren’t a direct proxy for firearms sales – not every check is related to a sale, a single check can be used to purchase more than one firearm in a single transaction, not all sales are completed even after an approved NICS, etc. – the National Shooting Sports Foundation proposed an interesting way to improve the proxy.

They devise the total number of NICS checks by removing those explicitly for permit or permit rechecks. While this will still not capture all firearms purchases (since some locales require a permit to purchase and so run a background check for the permit itself instead of at the point of sale), this calculation does likely get us closer to the number of firearms sold per month. 

March 2017 is number 10 in the total number of checks since January 2008 and cracks the top 20 for estimated sales (number 17, to be exact). Just over 1.35 million firearms were sold in March 2017 according to this estimate. 

The well-covered theory seemed to be that purchases would subside once the “threat” of Obama and Clinton policies were exhausted.

The numbers tell a different story. Using the estimated sales calculation, the number of purchases has increased in each month of 2017.  Actually, the average number of purchases in the first 3 months of 2017 is just 1% lower than the average of August through October 2016 (excluding the typically high sales month of December and November to prevent any electoral uncertainty from skewing our conclusion).

While we don’t have data on when purchasers decided to make a purchase, a reasonable assumption would be that the increase in late 2016 could be attributed to a desire to complete a planned purchase sooner to avoid the worst possible outcome of the election.

The increase in sales-related NICS checks each month of 2017 suggests that fear of anti-gun policies isn’t the driving force behind firearms purchases but perhaps simply a factor in the decision on when to purchase. Or, put another way, Americans’ commitment to liberty, tradition, and self-defense isn’t dictated by political developments.

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Visit:


  1. avatar MiniMe says:

    I’m waiting for my tax refund check to clear so I can purchase a X95 and a 1911 commander I’ve had my eyes on for a couple of months.

    So yeah, what gun sales slump?! 😀

    1. avatar Ed says:

      As far as I know, there isn’t a hold on tax refund checks. Strange.

  2. avatar Nanashi says:

    Got a meeting with my congressman on the 8th to propose him introducing legislation to repeal the NFA. I have no delusions that would pass before the 116th congress even if I’m successful, but that opening the floodgates would probobly break several months of records.

  3. avatar Sammy says:

    The gun, suppressor, magazine, accessory and ammo manufacturers that r laying off employees seem to disagree

    1. avatar rman says:

      I think that’s due more to unnecessarily adding employees anticipating a Hitlary victory..

  4. avatar former water walker says:

    My LGS is busy. Picking up my 3d gun since Black Friday this month. Maybe not hitting any records but it seems damn healthy. I admit it may be because of all the deals!

  5. avatar Bill says:

    I contributed by buying a new gun. And will be doing so more often because this era is the time buy son.

  6. avatar KMc says:

    I believe those numbers, but I feel the increase is due to all of the incentives manufacturers are offering.
    Shields for under $300? M&P Sport IIs for under $525? SA pistols get $180 worth of gear? Sounds great if you are a buyer.
    As an owner, I worry that sales would absolutely suck without these incentives.
    Anyone beg to differ???

    1. avatar Stinkeye says:

      I think you are 100% correct. Sales might still be okay, but the prices those guns are going for are, on average, significantly lower than they were back in October. If S&W has to offer a (roughly) 20% rebate to get people to buy a Shield, that’s still a slump in the market, even if the raw number of sales stays the same.

      If you can pick up a Ruger AR-556 for $450, or a Beretta Px4 for $400, or a Mossberg 930 for $379, I’m not buying the story that the market is just as strong as it was last year. Supply is obviously outpacing demand, or prices wouldn’t be lower than they were in 2016. This is as basic as economics gets.

      1. avatar Tim says:

        Plus, we just finished 8 years of premium-priced, buying-panic, climaxed with the ‘inevitable’ Hillary win. People are exhausted.

        Those years of ‘panic’ also encouraged a lot of 2nd & 3rd rate producers to open shop. Those guys are closing now, as they should.

    2. avatar Shallnot BeInfringed says:

      Sure, I’ll differ. I just bought a LEO trade-in M&P 40 on sale from Aim Surplus for 300 bucks including shipping. Now you might say that proves your point because it’s still a discounted price, which it is (albeit from a reseller, not the manufacturer.)

      But I stumbled across that while shopping for something very different, a new single-action .22 revolver. So I was enticed to buy the modern gun on sale over the regular-priced revolver since I thought it was a great deal – but the point is, if I hadn’t found that deal, I would have bought a full-price gun with no incentives.

      Of course I am only one person, so when it comes to the majority of sales you’re probably right. But not ALL recent sales, that’s all I’m saying. Some of us were buyin’ either way!

      1. avatar KMc says:

        We have sold a LOT more SAs than normal and their gear giveaway is the reason.

        1. avatar Shallnot BeInfringed says:

          I can believe that, it’s a great deal (except the holster sucks.) But as much as I love my SA stainless Champion (thanks, Bill Clinton!), I prefer the full-size M&P’s over the XD(x) series, so I simply wasn’t in the market for one of those. Guess I’ve finally forgiven S&W’s management, so they’re back on the table – ‘specially buying used.

    3. avatar Warren says:

      I bought a rifle I wasn’t planning on purchasing just yet, thanks to a significantly discounted sales price, a store coupon, and a manufacturer’s rebate, all stacked on each other. Plus a bunch of gift cards I’d been saving for no specific reason at all. It was actually very little cash out of pocket by the time I checked out.
      These are amazing times.

  7. avatar Craig says:

    Could you please compare Q1 2017 to Q1 of the last 8 years? Saying march 2017 is more than February 2017 is all well and good, but year over year quarterly comparison is more telling of a trend. For all we know, march always has more sales than February and January, as the holiday has past and people are receiving tax refunds (aka gun money in my house).

  8. avatar M1Lou says:

    I think I’ve bought five guns already this year? I’ve lost count.

    1. avatar Ed says:

      You can’t count to six? 😉

  9. avatar JB says:

    So why then are firearm and firearm accessory manufacturers and retailers going out of business left and right???

    In my line of work I deal with a lot of firearm retailers. Everyone one of them that I have spoken to about this has told me they have been off 25% to 35% every month from November 2016 to March 2017. There were no major national events, such as a mass shooting, during November 2015 to 2016 that would have artificially increased demand for firearms. So the steep decline in sales is sadly VERY real.

    1. avatar FlamencoD says:

      Umpqua Comm. College shooting, San Bernardino terrorist attack, or Orlando nightclub shooting (only the worst mass shooting in US history). There were mass shootings (including the terrorist attack) in that time frame. Some horrible ones. I’m not sure they affected sales or not, but don’t forget those events.

    2. avatar Stinkeye says:

      “There were no major national events, such as a mass shooting, during November 2015 to 2016 that would have artificially increased demand for firearms.”

      Well, no major national events other than the election, I suppose. But the likely prospect of one of the most 2A-hostile presidential candidates in history being elected probably didn’t artificially increase demand for firearms, right?

  10. avatar Philthegardner says:

    I see that the market is finding its level with regard to prices, that’s why all these great deals. I just find it so sad that the prices were so “Demoncrat” inflated to begin with. Well at least, it got the attention of gun owners to act towards defending our gun rights.

  11. avatar Paul Lea says:

    Since February, picked up a 12ga 870, Springfield 1911, and a hipoint 995 for new shooters to use. Doing my part!

  12. avatar Shwiggie says:

    I’ve bought a gun a month since New Year’s, and it has nothing to do with sale prices. But anecdotal evidence is useless. Companies have been riding the Obama panic wave for eight years with many of them making out like bandits. Now we’re seeing a normalized market with brisk sales due to stock reduction sales and a greater felt-freedom to own because of the reduced likelihood of confiscation under a hoplophobic Clinton admin 2.0.

  13. avatar Montesa_VR says:

    I think it’s instructive that as Gander Mountain closes stores left and right, it is offering closeout prices on everything EXCEPT firearms and ammunition. Inflated Hillary prices might be going away, but the majority of guns on my shopping list are not one dime cheaper today than they were in October.

    1. avatar KMc says:

      Examples? Only Sig is not offering any kind of promos.

      1. avatar Montesa_VR says:

        Henry Big Boy Steel, Browning BLR, Ruger Blackhawk, Winchester 1885… how many do I need to list? The big discounts are on the semi-automatic rifles and plastic fantastic pistols. I bought a Ruger LCRx in October and haven’t seen a better price since. And all these Sig discounts? Let me know when there’s a big sale on the P320.

        1. avatar KMc says:

          Sig has no need to discount. We became a Master Dealer this year and that has certainly freed up product for us.
          Your point is taken, its the run of the mill stuff that gets discounted in some way.

    2. avatar Stinkeye says:

      That’s a bad example. Failing to price their guns and ammo in line with the rest of the market is one of the main reasons why Gander Mountain is a failed business.

  14. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    The total number of NICS checks, nationwide, is up about 9% from February 2017 which was itself a nearly 10% increase over January 2017. The total number of NICS checks, nationwide, is up about 9% from February 2017 which was itself a nearly 10% increase over January 2017.

    Holy echo Batman!

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email