It may seem like the National Shooting Sports Association’s regular monthly adjusted background check totals — which report new records nearly every month — are old news by now, but they’re important. Why? Because they reflect larger trends that are having an important effect on how the population at large views gun ownership.

Two recent surveys have revealed that, contrary to the party line being pushed by the President, the media and the Civilian Disarmament Industrial Complex, fewer Americans want to see more restrictions on their right to keep and bear arms. As more people choose to own guns, fewer of them want to see limits on their ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights as well as to protect themselves and their families.

Today’s adjusted NSSF total for last month — the best indicator of gun sales over time — continued to inch up, with April slightly topping the April, 2020 number that occurred at the height of the pandemic gun-buying spree.

The NSSF’s Mark Oliva tells us . . .

NSSF’s Adjusted National Instant Criminal Background of nearly 1.7 million background checks in April was the strongest April on record and is on pace with the background checks that we’ve seen for more than a year. Background checks for firearm sales were nearly one percent higher than April 2020.

Firearm sales remain elevated on two distinct concerns. Americans are buying firearms for concerns for personal safety and for White House and Congressional efforts to limit and deny the ability to purchase certain firearms. The continued gun control statements by President Biden, many of which have been fact-checked and debunked as false, are driving sales.

April marked 13 months of elevated firearm sales which have ranged between 1.5 million and 2 million each month. Firearm sales spiked in March 2020 and have remained at unprecedented levels since. It’s a remarkable feat of firearm manufacturers to keep pace with this blistering demand.

Here’s the NSSF’s press release . . .

The April 2021 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 1,694,118 is an increase of 0.9 percent compared to the April 2020 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,678,223For comparison, the unadjusted April 2021 FBI NICS figure 3,485,016 reflects a 21.1 percent increase from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 2,878,176 in April 2020.

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.

NICS Background check totals April, 2021
Unadjusted NICS background check totals (courtesy FBI.gov)

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 Alabamaand 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.

22 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder if the industry now is capacity constrained. That is to say, if they had inventory and the ability to add another shift or buy more raw materials, the growth rate would be even higher. Pent-up demand might continue for an unforeseeable time beyond when (if ever) community disorder settles down.

    Strikes me as though the new-buyer phenomena is unlikely to appear in sales under a qualifying CWP. New buyers are somewhat less likely to first get a carry permit and then buy a gun. More likely, they are buying to keep the first gun at home.

    • While firearms are hard to find in brick and mortar stores you can still find a good selection on line, abet with higher prices. I tend to purchase online more often as the stores have no stock.

      In regards to new owners and concealed carry permits or permits period the newbies I know most are getting those after their first purchase. But with the numbers we are seeing and with ammunition, permit CCL and Permits removed that means there are still about 18-20 million guns sold per year and they estimate at least 8 million of those are first time. Pretty dynamic shift in terms of gun ownership.

      • CCW permits are becoming somewhat of a regional thing, with 20 States no longer requiring them, and likely 21 soon (Texas). I know a number of people locally (MS) who are not going to renew, and newbies who are not getting one at all. Many will of course, but usually because of travel for work (Stateline commuters), or to avoid a NICS check at a retailer.

  2. I understand that not all NICS checks are purchases, requiring an adjustment factor, but shouldn’t the adjustment factor remain roughly constant? How do you infer a .9% increase in sales from a 21.1% increase in checks?

    • I understand that not all NICS checks are purchases, requiring an adjustment factor, but shouldn’t the adjustment factor remain roughly constant?

      Not anymore. It used to be about 0.6. Now it can vary much more widely, but if you want a ballpark, go with that. (Meaning 1,000 checks equals roughly 600 firearms).

      And yeah, I don’t understand those numbers.

      • Thanks, Danny.

        If anything, I’d think the adjustment factor would have decreased slightly the last few years (more Constitutional Carry states = smaller percentage of checks are for permits (probably) = larger percentage are purchases).

  3. A couple things.
    1 – I’m sure a lot of those sales are to those that already own firearms.
    2 – don’t get your hopes up that new firearms owners will support anti-2A efforts. From my conversations with a couple, they feel they’re different from the “radical owners”. Additionally, they just need a little something for home protection, not some killer “assault weapon”.

  4. Is it any wonder we have such a shortage in ammo? Or that the Washington left is going bonkers?

    It’s amazing. It might actually be time to start taking a serious look into more ammo factories, more ranges, and better politicians.

  5. More gun owners is probably a net gain, even if some of them are fudds and some of the others will turn on us at the first chance they get.

    But I’m sure that the media and Democrats will attribute the bump to “supercollectors’ buying a hundred thousand guns each.

  6. I have had a GA License to carry for the entire time there has been a NICS and GA does not have a requirement for NICS if you have the GA Weapons Carry License so nothing I have bought in the last 25 years counted in those NICS numbers. I expect there are north of 550 million firearms in this country since they don’t really wear out the way the lefties think.

  7. The President?????
    I didn’t know America has a President.
    You mean that guy that strips the constitution and proclaims the government ‘ is’ the people.
    So that’s a President. ? ? ?

    • From the article. “demonstrated promise at reducing gun violence without contributing to mass incarceration.”
      So basically government grants that do absolutely nothing except waste our taxes.

  8. We Know exactly why there is a ammo shortage. Just listen to Maxine Waters give the warning. Obviously, the terrorist plan on being “more confrontational”. At least they are giving us fair warning. f em all!

  9. Gun and ammunition manufacturers are running 24/7/365, and yet both are still scarce.
    That tells you all that you need to know.

  10. People aren’t as stupid as the government thinks we are! We won’t have a constitution without the 2nd amendment! We know that and will protect that right from anyone who tries to subvert it, foreign or domestic!!!%

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