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Fear & Loading: 2019 Gun Sales Continue Their Streak

Fear & Loading: 2019 Gun Sales Continue Their Streak

The total number of firearms purchased in 2019 has caught up to 2018 figures and—with Black Friday quickly approaching—could eclipse last year’s figures and signal an end to a decline that has lasted two years. “…[T]he industry has seen well-improved sales numbers over the past three months that jointly have brought the 2019 year-to-date total unit sales fully in line with last year’s unit sales levels by this time of year (about 10.8 million units, January to October),” wrote Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting Chief Economist Jurgen Brauer.

Gun sales started the year up roughly 3.7 percent, but February, March and April followed with reduced numbers. The drops ended in May, when estimates reflected a modest increase of somewhere around 1 percent. Firearm sales have steadily improved since, with August leading that charge at 16 percent.

“Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting (SAAF) estimates October 2019 U.S. firearm sales at 1,159,277 units, a year-over-year increase of 10.8% from October 2018. Likely single handgun sales (570,370) increased year over year by 12.2% while long-gun sales (498,117) increased year-over-year by 7.9%. All other likely background check related-sales (90,790) increased year-over-year by 19.7%,” SAAF wrote in a press release [PDF].

The total number of NICS background checks conducted by the FBI in October [PDF], 2,393,603, eclipsed that month’s previous highwater mark, which was set in 2016—the year in which a record-setting number of 15.7 million guns were sold in the United States. The raw figures, however, include a large volume of carry permits run through the system and other administrative duties.

Black Friday is traditionally among the busiest days for gun purchases, a fact reflected in the FBI’s list [PDF] of heaviest single-day use of the NICS system. In 2017 the agency processed 203,086 requests, the most ever. Last year’s figure of 182,093 managed to claim only fourth-place honors.

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