When American Rifleman reached out to the FBI asking about the volume of NICS checks and delays, the response was reassuring. Steps have been taken to protect the health of its staff working at the Criminal Justice Information Services division (shown above), and the agency is unwavering in its dedication to handling the record-breaking volume.
"The FBI is taking appropriate measures to ensure the safety of their employees while remaining committed to ensuring national security and pursuing violations of federal law,” the spokesperson responded by e-mail. “At this time, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Section remains fully operational and will continue to process requests. The NICS Section appreciates the public's patience during this period of national emergency."
The FBI couldn’t provide figures at the time, but the National Shooting Sports Foundation reports that on March 16, NICS volume was 300 percent higher than the year before. Since Feb. 23 the number of backgrounds run through the system has been double the normal volume.
A staff member at North Carolina’s Point Blank Range is “…selling a week’s worth of guns every day,” according to the Salt Lake Tribune. An Indiana FFL told RTV6 Indianapolis that in seven days he’s sold as much as he typically does in a month.
The trend isn’t exclusive to the United States, either. A March 28 Reuter’s news service report from Budapest, Hungary, says, “Hungarians have sought in increasing number to arm themselves for protection in recent weeks, fearing a possible unraveling of law and order if severe shortages set in as the coronavirus pandemic spreads.”
Sales in the United States were already up in 2020, even before the current trend, according to Jurgen Brauer, chief economist for Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting. Earlier this month he explained in a press release that, “…January and February 2020 have been at their highest levels since 2016.”