It’s not news to gun owners that firearms sales in the United States have skyrocketed upwards since the expiration of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban in 2004, a trend which picked up steam with the 2008 election. What is surprising even to a seasoned gun nerd like myself is just how much gun sales in the US have grown, and how relentless the growth has been. As evidence of this, 2016 has already become the all-time record year for gun sales in the USA, even without counting the month of December (the highest-sales month of the the year for guns). The first eleven months of 2016 have seen 24,767,514 NICS checks, well over two and a half million checks more than 2015’s record of 23,141,970.
Writer and TFB friend Hognose, of the site WeaponsMan.com, has been tracking gun sales for 2016 through the FBI’s NICS records as well as NSSF adjusted numbers, and he projects a conservative number of 27 million NICS checks for 2016, once December has come and gone – and that is very conservative, as just substituting last years numbers for the month of December puts the total over 28 million. He writes:
How Can We Say there’s an Annual Record with One Month Left?
Of course, as of 8 December we don’t have final data for even the FBI NICS, the most rapidly reporting of these numbers, so how can we say there’s a record?
Well, the FBI NICS numbers for the first eleven months of 2016 are in, and the total exceeds 2015’s record number (23,141,970, in case it was not at the tip of your tongue. That was over 2 million higher than 2014 or 2013). FBI’s 2016 year to date is 24,767,514, and there’s still a month — the biggest sales month — to go.
Normally, we run a naïve forecast throughout the year. It takes no account of the heavy seasonality in gun sales and NICS checks, and simply takes an average of all the months of this year that have reported so far, and “assumes” that average will be the result for still-unreported months. On this metric, we have known for months that 2016 would be a record; for example, once we got our hands on September’s numbers, we were forecasting 26.5 million NICS for the year, conservatively (conservatively because November and December are historically the peak months), even though under 20 million NICS were complete at the time. Our new forecast for 2016 is 27,019,106. Given that the arithmetic used creates false precision, you read it here first: NICS checks for 2016 will probably exceed 27 million.
But they’ve already set a record of 24,767,514. That’s almost double the last year of the Bush presidency (2008).
So far this year, two weeks this year, have been among the Top Ten NICS weeks since FBI started counting (1998), and Black Friday barely edged out last year’s Black Friday for the all-time one-day crown (data here; .pdf)
Please do click through and read the whole thing.
To illustrate how mind-boggling these numbers are for civilian firearm production numbers for a single year, consider that the total number of rifles and carbines produced by or on contract for the US government during World War II was just 12.5 million, a little more than half the NICS checks that have already been counted, and just 46% of Hognose’s projections.