If you’ve visited a gun shop in the last month or two, you may have felt there were more people in the store than normal, and that many of the people there were actively buying rather than just idly looking.
You’d not be wrong to perceive things that way. Gun sales spiked to a new all time high on Black Friday, 20% higher than the previous record, and have been steadily growing for a long time. Gun sales are usually guesstimated by tracking the number of FBI NICS calls – this is the ‘instant background check’ service required any time a person buys a gun from a FFL dealer.
NICS call numbers don’t exactly match the number of guns being sold. Of course, all private party sales usually don’t involve NICS calls, but on the other hand, private party sales are simply transferring guns that are already ‘out there’. All new gun sales have to go through a licensed dealer, so the NICS numbers are helpful to understand the growing number of guns being added to the country as a whole.
On Black Friday this year, NICS processed 155,000 calls, up 20% from the 129,000 calls on Black Friday last year; indeed, it was so busy that its computer system crashed twice.
Overall, monthly NICS calls have increased every month over the last year, and every year for the last ten years. You can see the FBI’s monthly NICS call volumes here.
While the NICS numbers are not the same exact thing as the number of new guns being sold, they are closely linked together. More NICS calls definitely means more guns sold. On the one hand, sometimes a single NICS call is for a person buying two or more guns, which would mean that the total guns sold is greater than the number of NICS calls logged. On the other hand, some states do NICS checks when issuing CCW licenses, which means that the number of guns sold would be less than the number of NICS calls logged. On balance, most estimates suggest that fewer guns are sold than NICS calls are logged, but whatever the adjustment factor needed, the bottom line is that gun sales are greatly increasing, and each year probably sees another 10 million – maybe more – new guns added to the total already in private hands in the country.
Oh – as we’ve pointed out before, all these extra guns that are reaching private citizens – the net result is that violent crime rates are declining rather than increasing.
Do we need to tell you the reason for the soaring gun sales? Ironically, but obviously, President Obama has been the best ‘salesman’ for the gun industry ever, and his comments in one of the Presidential debates in October about seeking to introduce new gun controls on ‘assault rifles’ (a made up term which means nothing specific at all, which unfortunately also means it can apply to any and every type of firearm, depending on your perspective) added to the worry that many people have about what might be coming down the line during his second term.
We’re not saying you should panic and rush out to buy more guns now. After all, hopefully you already have an ample sufficiency! On the other hand, it is almost Christmas, and what better gift for yourself and your loved ones than the ability to defend yourselves/themselves.
Maybe it might also be a good idea to buy a few more cases of ammo – people opposed to firearm ownership sometimes promote restrictions not just on guns but on ammunition as well. Besides which, the more ammunition you have, the more likely you are to use some of it for ongoing practice and training, and that’s surely a good thing.
Oh, and make sure you have plenty of full designed capacity magazines too – one of the ‘low lying fruit’ that has been attacked before is to restrict the capacity of magazines down to an inconveniently small number.