Gun sales have risen for 10 years, with 2013 standing out as an extraordinary year for firearm sales for several identifiable reasons, according to a new report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation. NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti is noted in the report as saying that this is a fact to be mindful of when comparing estimated sales through the first seven months of 2014 with those of the previous year.
"Those who are hostile to firearms ownership are trying to suggest sales are off in 2014 because people are no longer interested in owning guns, which is contradicted when you consider sales have risen for 10 years, that last year was the highest year ever and that studies show increases in first-time gun owners and women buying guns," he said.
The report goes on to say that if the extraordinary 2013 numbers are removed from the rear-view mirror, sales of firearms in America still show an almost uninterrupted rise over the past 10 years, according to national background check figures adjusted by NSSF to reflect market activity. For the first seven months of 2014, total firearm sales rank as the highest in the last decade, with the one big exception of 2013 (see chart).
(A background check is mandatory for retail purchases of firearms. NSSF adjusts background check data from the FBI's National Instant Background Check System to remove non-sales activity such as checks conducted for concealed carry permits. This results in NSSF-adjusted NICS data being a better indicator of market conditions than overall NICS data, though NSSF-adjusted NICS figures do not correlate one to one with firearm sales.)
According to the report, from January through July 2014, NSSF-adjusted NICS figures total 6.95 million background checks against 6.85 million for 2012 and 5.64 million in 2011. In 2013, the seven-month figure was 8.81 million and the annual total was a record 14.8 million. Multiple factors account for last year's sales surge, including a fear of additional firearms-ownership restrictions, which came to pass in states such as New York, Connecticut and Maryland, as well as increasing interest in owning firearms by women and former servicemen and women
"The sky certainly is not falling," Sanetti added. "To me, firearm sales data through the first seven months is saying our industry is experiencing a 'new normal.' Like a rocket ship, we've returned to Earth, but we haven't gone back in time. With 2014 on track to be one of the highest sales years in a decade, I call that a sign of a healthy industry serving a passionate, growing customer base."
Sanetti said that over the last decade, the market has spoken: "Citizens around the country have exercised their constitutional right to purchase a great variety of firearms for target shooting, hunting and personal and home protection. I'm optimistic we'll see a strong finish to this year. And contrary to the naysayers, both the violent crime rate and fatal accidents with firearms have decreased about 19 percent and 22 percent during the past decade which saw these great increases in the number of firearms being purchased by more Americans. That's the most gratifying news of all."