The number of firearms-related background checks from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) are up for the third straight month compared to last year. NICS is a national computerized background system used per federal law in all transfers of firearms via Federal Firearms Licensees. It checks available records on people who may be disqualified from receiving firearms.
In addition to gun purchases, the NICS statistics reflect permit checks and re-checks—both of which have risen dramatically. Thus, the number of NICS background checks does not equal the one-to-one number of firearms transfers.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) adjusts these numbers to remove the permit checks and re-checks to provide a better idea of how many actual firearms purchases took place. The NSSF-adjusted number for July 2019 was over 830,500, up 1% compared to the same time in 2018.
“Firearms purchases have settled into a new normal between the pre-Obama numbers and the highest numbers in the Obama era” said Jim Curcuruto, director of research and market development at the NSSF.
The NICS and NSSF numbers both show that Americans are increasingly exercising their right to keep and bear arms. There were about 12 million more NICS checks in 2018 than a decade ago. Expanding the ranks are women, younger shooters, and urban Americans—indications of a cultural change in the shooting sports.
It’s likely that requests for both permits and firearms purchases will continue to rise.