As anti-Second Amendment politicians in a few states continue to push, and even pass, gun bans and other legislation that infringes on Americans’ constitutional rights, they’re seeing increased firearms sales in those same states.
While the latest National Instant Background Check System (NICS) numbers show that, nationwide, April background checks (an indirect indicator of new firearms sales) were up about 1% from April of last year, states where politicians are cracking down on law-abiding gun owners saw much bigger increases.
Oregon is an excellent example. We’ve reported recently how Oregon legislators are trying to pass a measure to implement the restrictive bans contained in Measure 114, an anti-gun initiative that was narrowly approved by a statewide vote last fall but has been stalled judicially due to a number of legal challenges, including an NRA-backed lawsuit. In spite of the legal challenges faced by Measure 114, the legislature is attempting to implement even more onerous restrictions than those that were originally on the ballot. In April, Oregon saw over 43,000 background checks performed, compared to just under 28,000 the previous year—a 56% jump.
Likewise, April gun sales in Washington, where an “assault-weapons” ban had been considered all spring and, along with two other anti-gun bills, was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee (D) on April 25, show a similar trend. That state saw more than 71,000 background checks in April, up from the roughly 49,500 during the same month last year. That’s a 44% increase.
Meanwhile, in Illinois, a so-called “assault-weapons” ban that was passed earlier this year, and is currently being hashed out in court, was recently blocked by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. “It does not appear that the legislature considered an individual’s right under the Second Amendment nor Supreme Court precedent,” the court wrote.
Embattled Illinois gun owners have increased firearms purchases in reaction to the new law. April 2023 saw just shy of 40,000 background checks conducted in the Prairie State compared to 35,790 last April, an increase of nearly 12%.
Additionally, in Colorado, where law-abiding gun owners have found themselves increasingly under fire over the past several years, anti-Second Amendment Gov. Jared Polis (D) recently signed four anti-gun bills into law, including a waiting period to purchase a firearm and a ban on gun ownership for adults 18 to 20 years old. That state, too, had an increase in background checks that was significantly higher than the national average. Colorado NICS checks in April numbered 47,614, which was up 7% from April 2022.
A proposed ban on so-called “assault weapons” in Colorado was defeated, but reports on the legislation likely also had an impact on driving up NICS checks in the state,
At the other end of the spectrum, North Carolina residents have shown what can happen when archaic, restrictive laws concerning firearms purchases are repealed. In March, the North Carolina legislature passed a measure to repeal the state’s permit-to-purchase system, a law that is unnecessary because of NICS and was permitted by statute to take up to 30 days for an application to be approved.
Gov. Roy Cooper (D) vetoed the measure on March 24, but five days later the legislature voted to override Cooper’s veto. Following the override, the FBI conducted over 68,000 NICS checks in April, compared to the nearly 19,000 in April of 2022, a whopping 239% increase.