March NICS Numbers Highlight Record Firearm Sales

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posted on April 2, 2020
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At least 80 percent more guns were purchased in March than a year ago in the same month. The findings—from the National Shooting Sports Foundation—are based on raw National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figures, but adjusted for the volume of administrative use of the system, including concealed-carry permit applications, renewals and other duties.

NSSF’s calculations indicate 2,375,525 NICS checks last month reflected a firearm purchase, which represents an increase of 80.4 percent compared to the March 2019 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,317,114.

Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting’s (SAAF) estimate for March, using a slightly different statistical model, puts the total number of guns sold last month higher—2,583,238. If its figures are correct, that represents a year-over-year increase of 85.3 percent from March 2019.

The SAAF press release issued yesterday breaks down the guns by group. “Likely single handgun sales (1,534,002) increased year-over-year by 91.1% whereas single long-gun sales (835,663) increased year-over-year by 73.6%,” it states. “All other likely background check-related sales (213,573) increased year-over-year by 94.0%.”

NSSF estimates total firearm sales for 2020 currently stands at close to 4,841,1256, which represents a 41.8 percent increase over last year’s figures during the same period (3,414,361). Those figures are slightly conservative, too.

The organization reminds enthusiasts that, “Twenty-five states currently have at least one qualified alternative permit, which under the Brady Act allows the permit-holder, who has undergone a background check to obtain the permit, to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer without a separate additional background check for that transfer. The number of NICS checks in these states does not include these legal transfers based on qualifying permits and NSSF does not adjust for these transfers.”

SAAF Chief Economist Jurgen Brauer noted another record-breaker in the NICS figures. “The spurt in firearms sales in March 2020 was particularly notable for its handgun component: The ratio of handguns to long-guns sold now stands at a record 1.84, the highest ratio since the introduction of the NICS checks in late 1998.”

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