With the sole exception of January, the number of NICS background checks — a good barometer of gun sales — have lagged the prior year’s total in every month in the last 12. As the National Shooting Sports Foundation reports, March was no exception, coming in 12.4% below the prior year total. For reference, February’s total was 12.8% behind the year-ago total.
While high-profile shootings typically result in sales surges in anticipation of a push for more gun control laws, that doesn’t seem to have been the case here. The Parkland shooting took place on February 14 of 2018 with no appreciable effect on the number of background checks.
Here’s the NSSF’s press release . . .
NSSF-Adjusted NICS Background Checks for March 2019
The March 2019 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 1,317,114 is a decrease of 12.4 percent compared to the March 2018 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,503,967. For comparison, the unadjusted March 2019 FBI NICS figure 2,604,927 reflects a 5.4 percent decrease from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 2,753,881 in March 2018.
The first quarter 2019 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 3,414,361 reflects a decrease of 8.5 percent over the 3,731,375 figure for first quarter 2018.
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. FBI NICS and NSSF-adjusted NICS figures do not account for firearm sales or transfers using approved alternate permits such as a concealed carry license. Several states allow the use of such alternate permits that have become popular among consumers over the past several years.
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.