The number of firearms purchased in February was up 10 percent compared to the same month in 2020, according to estimates from Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting (SAAF)—based on the number of FBI NICS background checks conducted. However, the scalding pace of sales growth shows signs of stabilizing.
“While the February 2021 number of nearly 1.5 million firearms sold is large, nonetheless it is smaller than for February 2013 (1.7 million) and February 2016 (1.6 million) even as the Biden Administration formally announced last month that it would start reconsidering federal firearms-related legislation,” SAAF chief economist Jurgen Brauer said in a press release issued this week.
By comparison, SAAF estimates January’s sales figures came in at 2.2 million. That represents a 79-percent increase over January 2020.
It’s unlikely this month’s numbers will show a year-over-year improvement, though. It was March of last year when the pace of gun sales first reached record-setting proportions, just as the public began to recognize the catastrophic nature of the pandemic and need for heightened self-defense. Purchases that month came in at a staggering 2,583,238, which represented a 94 percent year-over-year increase.
Inventory strained after the initial rush, followed by a second in June, and never fully recovered in a year that saw between 21 and 23 million sold. Those figures don’t even include private transactions and purchases made by holders of a valid carry permit in regions where a redundant NICS check is not required.
Roughly 40 percent of firearms sold in 2020 went home with first-time owners, according to estimates from the National Shooting Sports Foundation. They also needed to purchase ammunition to gain experience with their guns, as well as attend classes.
A cartridge and component shortage followed and grew to historic proportions by December. Supply lines continue to struggle to this day, although if there’s any good news in firearm sales stabilizing at a more reasonable growth rate it’s the fact enthusiasts may find more ammo available soon, and gun manufacturers may finally catch up with demand.