The October 2020 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System(NICS) figure of 1,769,553 is an increase of 60.1 percent compared to the October 2019 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,105,335. For comparison, the unadjusted October 2020 FBI NICS figure 3,268,909 reflects a 40.5 percent increase from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 2,327,252 in October 2019.
The year-to-date total of 17.2 million background checks shatters the previous complete annual record of 15.7 million background checks set in 2016. Two months of sales still remain, traditionally among the busiest of the year.
Please note: Twenty-five states currently have at least one qualified alternative permit, which under the Brady Act allows the permit-holder, who has undergone a background check to obtain the permit, to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer without a separate additional background check for that transfer. The number of NICS checks in these states does not include these legal transfers based on qualifying permits and NSSF does not adjust for these transfers. Michigan had law changes that affected their Brady Law standing which removed qualifying alternate permits usage for firearm transactions. These changes went into effect March 3, 2020. NSSF-adjusted NICS for the state of Michigan in October 2020 were 185.4 percent higher than October 2019 which accounts for an additional 43,817 checks over the same time period.
The adjusted NICS data were derived by subtracting out 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. NSSF started subtracting permit rechecks in February 2016.
Though not a direct correlation to firearms sales, the NSSF-adjusted NICS data provide an additional picture of current market conditions. In addition to other purposes, NICS is used to check transactions for sales or transfers of new or used firearms.
It should be noted that these statistics represent the number of firearm background checks initiated through the NICS. They do not represent the number of firearms sold or sales dollars. Based on varying state laws, local market conditions and purchase scenarios, a one-to-one correlation cannot be made between a firearm background check and a firearm sale.
For additional information on NICS or to view a complete set of the current monthly reports, please visit the NICS website.
Questions concerning NSSF-adjusted NICS data should be directed to NSSF at 203-426-1320 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional research is available at nssf.org/research. NSSF members are able to access historical monthly NICS data by logging in and clicking on "Industry Research" then "NICS data."
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The National Shooting Sports Foundation® is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide. For more information, visit www.nssf.org.