Firearm purchases in August that resulted in the FBI processing a National Instant Criminal Background (NICS) Check came in at 1,286,816, according to a National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) estimate. Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting (SAAF), which harnesses results from market research for a more accurate snapshot of industry health, put total gun sales for the month at roughly 1.4 million.
The figures represent a decrease of nearly 4 percent compared to the same period in 2021, a year in which firearm sales set the second-highest volume on record. This year continues its pace toward third-place honors, despite the relatively reduced concerns about social unrest and pandemic that drove 2020 and 2021 to shatter all previous highwater marks.
August’s figures also reflect a trend away from sportsmen preparing for opening day serving as the period’s primary sales catalyst. “Normally August sales are ‘bumped up’ relative to July sales by about 10 percent to 30 percent, but this has not been the case for the past three years, possibly reflecting different purchasing patterns since COVID-19 arrived in the U.S.,” said SAAF Chief Economist Jurgen Brauer in a press release late last week.
When compared to August 2021, handguns taken home by new owners decreased by only 2.7 percent, according to his findings. The long guns preferred on opening day, however, dipped by 7.2 percent.
“August’s figures show there is a clear and steady desire by the American public for lawful firearm ownership,” said NSSF’s Mark Oliva. “Consistently throughout the year, background check figures for firearm sales at retail have put 2022 on pace to be the third strongest year, behind only the outsized years witnessed in 2020 and 2021.”
For the past 37 months, more than 1 million firearm purchases have resulted in a NICS check, although published volume figures are likely underestimates. Private transactions and purchases made by holders of a valid carry permit—who’ve already undergone the background investigation—are not mandatory in all regions of the country, making it impossible to determine precise figures.