We’ve all seen the photos of long lines and empty shelves at gun stores across the country, but we had to wait until the FBI released its monthly report on the number of NICS checks to get a real sense of how big the surge in gun sales has been. As it turns out, a record number of us headed to the gun store last month to buy a hangun, rifle, or shotgun. NICS reports 3,740,688 checks were performed in March, which is the most recorded checks since the National Instant Check System began in 1998.
In fact, this is the first time in NICS history that the agency has conducted more than 3-million background checks in one month, and the 3.7 million checks performed in March dwarfs the previous record of 3,314,594 set in December of 2015. It’s worth noting, however that the raw number of NICS checks performed also includes checks for permits, and some states conduct those checks on a daily basis.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation releases revised figures that separate out those permit checks and rechecks from the NICS checks for firearm purchases, and the organization is currently compiling their figures, but Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting, an estimated 2.5 million firearms were sold in March, which is an 83-percent increase over March of last year. According to SAAF, approximately 1.5 million handguns were sold, along with more than 850,000 rifles.
“This is overwhelming evidence that Americans value their ability to take responsibility for their own safety in times of uncertainty,” said the NSSF’s Director of Public Affairs Mark Oliva. “The figures are simply eye-popping. Retailers have been telling us that the overwhelming majority of those buying firearms over the last month have been first-time gun owners. This puts to rest America’s thoughts on gun control ideas. Americans across the country chose to exercise their right to lawfully purchase a gun when their safety became more than a rhetorical question.”
We have no way of knowing how many of these checks were performed on first-time gun buyers, but gun shop employees and owners have said 50-percent or more of their current customers are new gun owners. It’s likely that over the course of the month of March, more than 1-million Americans made the decision to exercise their right to keep and bear arms for the first time in their lives. That is a staggering number, and it would undoubtably be even higher if states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania had allowed gun stores to remain open, instead of forcing them to close for more than a week.
Gun control groups are busy spinning that the spike in gun sales is simply a result of NRA propaganda, when the truth is that it’s simply human nature to want to protect yourself and your loved ones, and that need becomes much more acute during uncertain times. Americans who have never given much thought to their personal safety are now thinking long and hard about how to protect themselves from the coronavirus, but they’re also concerned about what the current state of the economy could mean for crime rates where they live.
Second Amendment organizations and individuals have done a great job ensuring that these new gun owners have access to the basics of gun safety even if they can’t get to a range at the moment, while the supposed “gun safety” groups have been busy trying to block access to firearms and ammunition. Americans are rejecting the arguments of gun control advocates in record numbers, and now we’ve got the data to prove it.