While stock prices drop, large firearm companies file for bankruptcy protection and analysts predict a softening of the entire firearms industry, the FBI’s NICS Firearms Checks statistics show a marked increase in February 2017 over January.
The NICS section of the FBI.gov website publishes monthly totals and running totals of firearm background checks. While these totals do not perfectly reflect the number of firearms sold, they are a very solid indicator of firearm sales volume and make for a handy comparison.
Not every state requires a NICS Firearms Background Check for every firearm purchased from a dealer, and some do not require checks for private sales between two non-FFL holders. Some states have their own qualifying background check systems and many states have some sort of firearm permitting system that replaces the need for FFL dealers to conduct NICS Firearms Background Checks for a gun transaction. In most states if you purchase or transfer more than one firearm at a time the FFL dealer need only perform one background check for that purchase or transfer. If, heaven forbid, you pawn a firearm the pawnbroker must perform a NICS check when you get your gun out of hock. If you purchased a used gun from an FFL dealer a NICS check will be performed. That was a really long-winded way to say that the number of background checks performed by the federal government do not accurately reflect the actual number of new guns making their way to the general public.
Experts do agree that the number of NICS Firearms Background Check reportedly performed is a very good indicator of the health of new firearms sales, and it makes for a handy comparison tool to see the growth and shrinkage of the gun market.
February NICS checks hitting over 2.2 Million last month represents almost a 10% increase over January 2017. That number for February is only slightly lower than the number of checks performed in October 2016, a record for that month. Some I have spoken to attribute the increase in sales to the liquidation of inventory acquired before the presidential election. If this is the case we should see a drop in the near future as sales slow. One thing is for sure, it will be interesting.