To paraphrase Mark Twain, the news of the demise of the firearm industry is greatly exaggerated. Numbers are involved in our coverage, but addition isn’t even required to understand what the figures just in from the FBI mean.
Total NICS background checks conducted by the FBI in May 2017 was 1,942,677, handily eclipsing the monthly high-water mark set last year at 1,870,000. Although the figure doesn’t necessarily reflect a gun purchase every time one is processed, it’s considered a good relative barometer of gun sales.
The news comes on the heels of a variety of media outlets claiming that slowing firearm sales signal reduced enthusiasm for ownership—a trend a few even touted as signaling the industry’s long-term health is in jeopardy. As recently as May 23, 2017 a CNN report explained some publicly traded companies specializing in guns and gear have reduced their projected 2017 sales figures. “The fresh, gloomy numbers are the latest blow to gun manufacturers since last November, when Trump’s election eliminated a key catalyst for gun sales in the US…” it wrote.
Absent from most of the coverage is the fact that December, January, February and March claimed the third-highest NICS totals during their respective reporting periods—not shabby for a program that launched back in 1998, especially when you consider the record-setters in each month came during contentious elections. Industry experts coined the term “new norm” this year, although “Trump Slump” is favored by the today’s statistically challenged version of a journalist.
May is traditionally a lethargic month in total number of NICS background checks. June and July historically haven’t fared much better, although last year both broke the 2 million mark, at a time when Presidential hopefuls were debating the future of the Second Amendment.
The latest figures don’t put 2017 on a pace to break last year’s record-setting total, although they certainly make it obvious the news of the firearm industry’s demise is greatly exaggerated.