Fear & Loading: Firearm Sales Showing Interesting Trends

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posted on December 6, 2018
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A continuation of a “new norm” in gun sales below last year’s totals is reflected in November’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figures—which don’t necessarily reflect a gun purchase with each one processed—but some unusual trends also developed. Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting’s (SAAF) Chief Economist Jurgen Brauer commented in a press release that, “… despite the year-over-year decline, November sales actually were uncommonly strong in that the increase from October to November is the second-largest observed over the past six years.”

In addition, the number of times multiple guns were processed—representing the purchase of at least two firearms—came in at 38,028. That’s the second highest ever for a single month, trailing only 2012’s December total of 38,438. The SAAF press release noted: “This category of sales has seen strong gains throughout the year and it would be helpful to market analysts if in the future the FBI were to release more detailed information.”

Overall volume, however, remains at a pace that may see 2018 claim third-place honors for annual sales, trailing 2016 and 2017, respectively. As for November, after the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) adjusted for concealed-carry permits and administrative use of the system the final, “… figure of 1,314,193 is a decrease of 9.8 percent compared to the November 2017 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,457,103.” SAAF’s calculations were a little brighter. It “… estimates November 2018 firearm sales at 1,404,729 units, a year-over-year decline of 9.3% from November 2017. Likely single handgun sales (643,229) fell year-over-year by 14.3% and single long-gun sales (627,323) fell year-over-year by 10.5%.”

Total—unadjusted—NICS checks processed by the FBI as of Dec. 1 currently stand at 23,638,551, ahead of the 23,141,970 2015 total. Last month’s Black Friday’s NICS checks seem to confirm the trend, coming in fourth place for 24-hour periods, behind the last three years.

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