The month of April 2023 has claimed third place in volume of firearm sales for April, dwarfed only by the record-setting pace set during the pandemic and accompanying widespread social unrest. It also marked the 45th month in a row that saw more than 1 million firearm purchases reflected in the number of National Instant Criminal Background Checks (NICS) processed by the FBI.
According to an estimate by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), April’s figure came in at 1,369,296, which is up from April 2022’s 1,359,908. The figure represents a 0.7-percent increase when compared to the same 30-day reporting period in 2022, but down from March 2023’s 1,556,492.
Tax deadline and summer’s approaching heat and vacations traditionally slow traffic at FFL sales counters during the month, however. This year’s sales were partly fueled by increased purchasing in North Carolina, Oregon and Washington state.
In late March, elected officials in the Tar Heel state, for example, removed the requirement that law-abiding citizens secure a permit from their local sheriff to purchase a handgun. The change took place immediately and the news was slow getting out, but by April, the state’s FFLs experienced a 238.4 percent increase in handgun sales volume.
Washington state experienced a 43.6 percent increase in NICS checks related to firearm purchases—in April—just as the governor signed a measure banning the sale and transfer of modern sporting rifles. With Oregon’s elected officials debating a variety of controversial measures, sales there grew by 56.1 percent.
Figures for total nationwide firearm sales are estimates used by the industry as a relative barometer of consumer demand and industry health. They should not be considered an accurate representation. Raw FBI NICS volume, for example, includes background checks conducted for carry permits and renewals, as well as a variety of other administrative uses.
There are also 24 states that have an alternative method of processing the required background checks. Many acknowledge the background checks already conducted on those valid concealed carry permit holders and don’t require them to undergo the redundant process.