The FBI’s National Instant Check System conducted a record number of instant background checks in January of this year, according to the federal agency. The FBI released the NICS numbers on Wednesday, showing more than 2.7 million background checks were processed through NICS in January.
That’s the highest number for January background checks ever recorded by the FBI, surpassing the 2.5 million checks performed in January of 2016.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation has noted that several states use the NICS system to regularly re-check the permit status of concealed carry holders, which can cause issues with using the raw data as a barometer for gun sales. That’s why the firearms industry trade group releases their own set of adjusted NICS numbers which seeks to account for those administrative checks, though they note:
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.
With that caveat in mind, the NSSF-adjusted NICS numbers for January 2020 are 1,171,478. That’s an 18.6% increase over the adjusted figures for January of 2019, and only the fifth January since 2000 that’s seen more than a million NICS checks according to the NSSF-adjusted figures. January of 2020 was also the third highest adjusted NICS number since 2000, behind January of 2013 and January of 2016, when 1,362,847 or so retail checks were conducted.
In other words, a lot of Americans are buying a lot of firearms at the moment, though sales in one state in particular saw an enormous increase in January.
According to the NSSF, the state of Virginia saw a whopping 84.6% increase in the adjusted NICS figure for January 2020 compared to January of 2019, from 36,678 to 67,699. Governor Ralph Northam is helping to sell a lot of guns he wants to ban, and I believe strong sales will continue in Virginia at least through July, when any bad bills signed by Governor Northam become bad laws.
I also suspect that, like Northam in Virginia, Democrat candidates like Michael Bloomberg are going to be responsible for a lot of gun sales across the country in the months ahead. When Americans feel like their rights are being threatened, they generally respond by exercising those rights as much as they can. I just hope that those Americans who purchase a firearm in the months ahead also vote in November, and work to elect strong, pro-Second Amendment candidates between now and Election Day.