January's NICS Numbers Show Gun Business Is Still Booming

Zac K
by Zac K
January’s NICS numbers took a slide from the same month in 2023. [FBI]

We hear an awful lot of talk about how tight the economy is these days, and how discretionary spending is dropping, however, according to January’s NICS numbers, a lot of Americans are still very interested in buying guns.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is used in many firearms sales, and the numbers are a very rough approximation of how many firearms are being bought and sold in a month. It isn’t a direct correlation, because not every firearms sales falls under NICS’ umbrella (private sales are obviously exempt), and NICS is used to track more than firearms sales. Some states allow other licensing to suffice for a sale instead of a NICS query, and more than one firearm may be sold per NICS query.

Not every NICS inquiry is a gun sale. [FBI]
However, this FBI-managed system is still better than using no metric at all, as long as you know the numbers are not iron-clad sales figures.

January’s NICS numbers saw 1,197,294 background checks when adjusted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) formula which subtracts “NICS purpose code permit checks and permit rechecks used by states for CCW permit application checks as well as checks on active CCW permit databases.” So, at least this number is about as accurate as the firearms industry association can get them.

That number is down from the figures of January 2023, which saw the NSSF-adjusted number of 1,268,236 NICS inquiries. That’s hardly much cause for concern for the firearms industry, which has now seen its 54th month in a row with NSSF-adjusted NICS inquiries over 1 million.

Other NICS-related inquiries, not related to sales, dropped more than estimated sales queries. [FBI]
Interestingly, the FBI’s unadjusted numbers saw 2,180,262 inquiries for last month, which would be a 16.6 percent decrease from January 2024. In other words: Total NICS inquiries slid more than the number of gun sales-related inquiries. Does that mean fewer shooters applied for CCW permits, or is there some other relevant info to draw from this data? We’ll see how this plays out over the rest of the year.

For an overview of how NICS works, check out the FBI’s website here.

Zac K
Zac K

Professional hoser with fudd-ish leanings.

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  • MediumSizeTex MediumSizeTex on Feb 14, 2024

    Democrat Party: "Our numbers are slipping-- we need to get more voter engagement from young people and POC!"

    [gets handed report showing ongoing high rates of gun purchases by POC and first-time buyers, along with polls showing voter dissatisfaction with lack of focus on social issues]

    Democrat Party: "Hmmm... okay, what we're gonna do is completely ignore social issues and lean super hard into new gun control laws, all of which are unambiguously in defiance of the Supreme Court's Bruen decision, and commit to spending truckloads of taxpayer money defending them even though they're all 100% guaranteed to get struck down on judicial review!"

  • Patriot Gunner Patriot Gunner on Feb 14, 2024

    According to FBI.gov the nics numbers for Jan 2023 were 2.7 million compared with Jan 2024 which was 2.2 million.

    So we're down half a million and "business is booming"?