The FBI just released the NICS check numbers for February, and last month was the second-highest on record for the period—eclipsed only by 2016’s figure. The total number of background checks the law enforcement agency performed in the 28 days was 2,333,193. The number is considered a relative gauge of overall firearm sales, although the “barometer’s” readings are off in most cases due to renewed carry permits run through the system and other factors.
There were nearly 99,000 more NICS checks in February than during the same period in 2017 and 300,000 more than in January 2018. So far this year, handguns have outsold long guns—1,163,337 to 771,970, respectively.
February’s figures also run counter of the oft-cited claim that political climate always dictates firearm sales. Overall sales were indeed up last month, but handguns accounted for the majority of purchases at 661,699. Long guns, with include shotguns and news-dominant ARs, came in with 434,373. So far this year, 60.1 percent of every NICS check for a gun purchase was for a pistol. That figure was relatively unchanged in February at 60.3 percent—statistically insignificant.
The trend is different, apparently, in the aftermarket/parts side of the industry. My recent order on Brownells.com provided evidence that demand had increased significantly. A warning appeared on the checkout page about longer-than-usual delays in shipping—a rarity for this company—so I e-mailed Ryan Repp, director of content and communications for the firm, to inquire.
He warned that orders were about five days behind as of Sunday afternoon. Things are changing fast, though, so it may not be the same later this week.
Why the sudden ordering influx? “The political chatter and rhetoric is certainly driving an elevated interest in nearly all products related to the AR platform,” Repp said. “It is causing some order processing delays and inventory is the AR category moving very quickly.”