NSSF: NICS Background Checks Spiked 300% This Week

The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Larry Keane reports that the National Instant Check System saw a 300% spike in background checks on March 16th compared to the same date in 2019, and that the average daily sales volume is running about double compared to sales in March of last year.

In a new post at the NSSF’s blog, Keane says the surge in sales of firearms is the clearest sign yet that Americans concerned for their safety are far more interested in buying guns than banning them. Unfortunately the run on firearms and ammunition is putting some strain on the ability of the instant check system to provide instant results.

FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) told NSSF background check traffic saw a 300 percent increase on Monday, March 16, compared to the same day in 2019. Daily volumes are roughly double what they were a year ago.

Coupled with measures to protect health, including having state-run background check authorities working from home or possibly closing offices, this is testing the limits of NICS. That’s why NSSF and the FBI is alerting retailers that most checks will get an immediate determination (“proceed” or “deny”), although it might take longer to process a check due to the volume. The “immediate” part will require some patience.  For checks that get a “delay” notification it’s important to keep in mind that NICS investigations might be slightly delayed and the three business days mandated by the Brady Act doesn’t include days when state offices are closed. FBI NICS has assured NSSF they are working overtime to clear the unprecedented backlog.

I’ve seen rumors online that background checks have stopped until mid-April, but that is NOT the case. Washington State’s background checks may be delayed by up to a couple of weeks at the moment, however, because of how the state conducts them. While the state uses the NICS system, it also runs checks using several other databases, including the Washington State Patrol electronic database and the Department of Social and Health Services’ electronic database.

Keane says even before the current spike in sales, Americans were already buying firearms at an increasing rate.

Gun sales were already trending higher before widespread health concerns. Since April 2019, each month of NSSF’s adjusted NICS Reports has been higher than the year previous. Much of that can be attributed to the near-constant hammering by gun control presidential candidates who have made threats of outright confiscation to Vice President Joe Biden’s threats to allow frivolous lawsuits against the firearm industry to send it into bankruptcy by overturning the bipartisan Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

The latest drive is showing Americans want to know they can provide for their own safety, especially when those vying to run the government vow to take that ability away.

I think it’s safe to say that when the NICS background check figures for March are released in a couple of weeks, we’ll see a new record number. December of 2015 was the busiest month for background checks since the NICS system was put in place in 1998, with 3.3-million checks performed.

Last month, there were 2.8-million checks conducted, and it wouldn’t shock me at all if the March numbers surpass 4-million checks. As Keane says, Americans want to know they can provide for their own safety, and they’re proving it in record numbers.