The National Shooting Sports Foundation has just released their tally of adjusted NICS background checks for April. It’s the best indicator of retail gun sales activity. The number show that during the COVID-19 emergency, with prisons and jails continuing to release criminals and police forces reduced by infections, Americans are buying more guns than ever before.
Here’s the NSSF’s press release . . .
The April 2020 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 1,678,223 is an increase of 69.1 percent compared to the April 2019 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 992,642. For comparison, the unadjusted April 2020 FBI NICS figure 2,878,176 reflects a 24.9 percent increase from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 2,305,136 in April 2019.
Please note: Twenty-five 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 April 2020, Alabama state’s NSSF-adjusted NICS was 263.0 percent higher than April 2019, which accounts for an additional 35,564 checks over this time last year. April 2020 NICS numbers for Michigan were up 114.8% over April 2019 and account for an additional 21,862 checks.
The adjusted NICS data were derived by subtracting out NICS purpose code permit checks and permit rechecks used by states for CCW permit application checks as well as checks on active CCW permit databases. NSSF started subtracting permit rechecks in February 2016.
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.