May Was the 34th Consecutive Month With 1 Million or More Guns Sold

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Innumerate media types will look at the NSSF’s graph of adjusted background check data and thrill to the fact that May, 2022’s total was down significantly from the 2020 spike and the 2021 total.

But if you look at the May, 2022 bar on the graph in relation to The Time Before years, you’ll see that last month’s adjusted NICS total was about 20% higher than it’s been in any previous May. Let that sink in for a minute. Americans are still buying guns a relatively blistering pace and with the current push in Washington to take advantage of the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings, that isn’t likely to change any time soon.

The NSSF’s Mark Oliva tells us . . .

Background checks for firearm sales remain strong. May marks 34 months that background checks for the sale of a firearm exceeded 1 million. Americans continue to buy firearms for personal safety. These gun owners are law-abiding Americans who use their firearms for lawful purposes daily. They reject the attempts by special interest groups to paint them with the same broad brush those who criminally misuse firearms.

The tragic events in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, are sobering remainders that there are those in our society who have no respect for the law or innocent lives. Every law-abiding adult American has the right to defend themselves and their loved ones against that evil.

Here’s the NSSF’s press release . . .

The May 2022 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 1,174,791 is a decrease of 11.3 percent compared to the May 2021 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 1,324,419. For comparison, the unadjusted May 2022 FBI NICS figure 2,272,187 reflects a 29.1 percent decrease from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 3,206,589 in May 2021.

The trend for this year continues as May 2022 figures are over a million and are the third strongest for the month on record, surpassed only by May 2021 and May 2020.

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.

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. 

Un-adjusted FBI NICS totals

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