October’s figures are in, and the record-setting pace continued in National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) volume. Each check does not necessarily constitute the sale of a gun, but it’s the most accurate reflection we have and a warning to gun owners that those special firearms will be in short supply once the shopping season kicks off later this month.
Nearly 2 million NICS checks were conducted in October, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE). The exact total was 1,976,759, which shattered the previous record for the month, set in October 2013 at 1,687,599. That makes six months in a row with a new monthly high-water mark.
The NICS checks total for the year 2013—when a record number of guns sold—was 21,093,273. If you subtract its November and December sales from that figure, though, it comes to 17,238,102. This year’s total so far is 17,584,346, which puts it 346,244 NICS ahead, thanks to a steady gain through the summer and last month’s incredible performance.
Ruger’s third-quarter report, issued this week, confirms gun sales are up considerably. The company had net sales of $120.9 million for the three months included, compared to $98.3 million during the same period in 2014. Sales increased 23 percent over the previous quarter. Overwhelming response to the firm’s 2 Million Gun Challenge to Benefit the NRA has helped, but there’s no denying the gun-buying public is making a political statement with its pocketbook.
If a firearm is on your holiday shopping list and you’re one of those last-minute shoppers, the numbers should get your attention. The good news is the firearm industry has recognized the increased demand. Ruger’s report stated, “Inventory of the Company's products at the independent distributors increased by 19,800 units during the third quarter of 2015 and the Company’s finished goods inventory increased by 45,200 units during the same period.”
But, then again, with shiny new buyers flocking to the stores and inventory flying off the shelves, I’d still shop early—and often.