The FBI released their raw NICS data late Friday.
And while the official parsing of the numbers isn’t complete, there’s reason to believe 2020 might not just be a record year for gun sales, it might be the record year by which all future results are judged.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s adjusted NICS figures for September say there were 1.6 million new guns sold, that’s a sixty-one percent increase over September 2019. That, as they say in the statistical world, is an elevated trend in keeping with the runaway sales numbers since March. March 2020 adjusted sales were 2.3 million, an all-time, one-month record.
Since then, according to the NSSF’s Mark Oliva, NICS figures have been between 1.6 and 2.1 million. If that continues, and there’s really no reason to believe it won’t, 2020 will finish with more than 20 million background checks for the sale of a firearm in 2020. The highest previous number is 15.7 million…in other words, business is booming.
Actually, there’s very little doubt that, barring a complete shutdown of the NICS system, the record won’t fall. 2020’s already at 15.4 million year-to-date. And that’s as of September- there’s another complete quarter left in the year.
What’s driving demand? It could be a lot of things, from uncertainty over the political climate to realization that in an emergency it’s important to be able to defend yourself rather than depend on law enforcement’s being able to get to you in a timely manner.
Granted, one candidate’s long-standing anti-gun ownership sentiments have added fuel to the fire, but sales were roaring along even before Mr. Biden announced that Beto O’Rourke would be his administration’s “gun czar.” And there’s little chance that any Second Amendment proponent would fail to remember O’Rourke’s “hell yes, we’re coming for your guns” comment from his short-lived presidential campaign.
The diametrically opposed positions on the Second Amendment make it pretty simple for Second Amendment advocates to know where their vote’s going next month, but that’s not enough to account for the long-term uptick. Uncertainty over the Presidential election is driving some to “buy while they still can” but certainly not enough to explain the ragingly hot sales numbers.
Guns, ammunition and accessories are all selling like crazy. So, too, are other categories in the outdoors, from emergency foods to recreational vehicles and camping gear. Some of that can be attributed to COVID-19 and the revitalization of the “staycation”. Another portion may be due to the sudden focus on self-sufficiency brought on by the pandemic, wildfires and other natural disasters.
Whatever the reasons, it appears there’s no apparent cooling off in the immediate future.
— Jim Shepherd