Amid Gun Control Push, March NICS Numbers Surge To All Time High

(AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)

Nothing drives gun sales like the prospect of new gun control laws, and the push by Democrats in Washington, D.C. to impose new restrictions on gun owners has resulted yet another surge in gun sales. The FBI released data on the March NICS figures earlier today, and according to the agency there were 4,691,738 background checks conducted last month, which is an all-time record for the NICS system.

Now, that doesn’t translate to nearly 4.7-million firearms sold. NICS is also used in some states to check the status of concealed carry holders and (in some cases) those who possess a license to simply a firearm, but it’s a dramatic increase compared to the raw numbers reported in February, when about 3.2-million background checks were performed throughout the system.

The private company Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting estimates that almost 2.2-million firearms were sold in last month, which they say was a decline of about 15% compared to March of last year when the Great Gun Run of 2020 kicked off in earnest.

SAAF Chief Economist Jurgen Brauer comments that “while the March 2021 number of nearly 2.2 million firearms sold is large, in fact the second-highest March figure on record, it nonetheless is smaller than for March 2020 (2.6 million) even as new federal firearms-related legislation was introduced in Congress. However, for the first quarter of 2021 as a whole, about 5.9 million firearms were sold as opposed to 5.2 million in the first quarter of 2020. If this rate of sales were to be sustained throughout 2021, last year’s record sales of 22.8 million would be broken. Handguns continue to outsell long guns, in March by a ratio of 1.68-to-1.”

According to Small Arms Analytics, Illinois “conducted about 1.4 million so-called permit checks and rechecks alone whereas end-user unit sales at firearms retailers likely amounted to about 62,000,” which accounts for the higher raw number of NICS checks but a decline in sales compared to March of 2020.

Still, when we’re talking about 2-million plus sales in one month, I think it’s fair to say that the Great Gun Run of 2020 is continuing well into 2021, and with gun control activists and Democrats in Congress pushing Joe Biden to enact new gun control measures via executive orders, the demand for firearms is likely going to remain at historically high levels.

More than 100 lawmakers called on President Joe Biden to take executive action and enforce regulations regarding the AR-556 pistol, according to a letter obtained by USA TODAY.

The weapon was used in the recent shooting in a Boulder, Colorado, grocery store that killed 10 people. 

The letter, first reported by Punchbowl News and penned by Democratic Reps. Mike Thompson, Val Demings, Joe Neguse and Ed Perlmutter, asks the president to “take strong executive action to address” such weapons under the National Firearms Act, which regulates use of certain firearms, and “serious inequities in the implementation.”

Neguse represents Boulder, and Thompson is the chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

It’s going to be difficult, legally speaking, for Biden to try to include AR-style pistols in the National Firearms Act, given that the ATF has repeatedly ruled that the firearms don’t meet the statutory requirements to be considered short barreled rifles (which are covered under the NFA). However, the ATF has tried to declare that the stabilizing braces used with many AR-style pistols can turn a pistol into a short-barreled rifle in some circumstances, and late last year the agency first published, and then withdrew, a proposed “guidance” on the matter, which would have allowed the agency to arbitrarily decide when and if an AR-style pistol was a short-barreled rifle. As the Firearms Policy Coalition warned at the time, the agency could easily decide to revisit that decision under the Biden administration.

Rather than publishing guidance, or conducting a rule-making process with notice and comment under the Administrative Procedure Act, such as the Trump Administration engaged in for its ban on bumpstock-type devices, the ATF and DOJ may simply begin to prioritize enforcement actions based upon their clearly erroneous and dangerously broad reading of the law, such as by arresting and prosecuting those who merely possess a stabilizing brace-equipped handgun.

“The National Firearms Act and Gun Control Act, along with their regulations, clearly state objective criteria as to whether a firearm is a short barrel rifle, short barrel shotgun, or any other weapon,” explained Adam Kraut, FPC’s Director of Legal Strategy. “It remains evident that ATF’s policy preferences are hostile to law-abiding Americans and the agency’s schizophrenic approach to addressing these issues places individuals at risk of prosecution for simply following and relying on guidance from the agency.”

“The ATF’s withdrawal of their proposed guidance should be the end of the road for this assault on lawful accessories and law-abiding gun owners, but we know better. FPC will continue to carefully monitor and evaluate ATF policies and enforcement practices for violations of the law and our Constitution, and as we have before, rapidly respond with forceful and appropriate action,” concluded Kraut.

Whatever moves the Biden administration makes, we can be sure that there’ll be an equal and opposite reaction on the part of Americans who continue to embrace their Second Amendment rights in record numbers. As Biden weighs his next move, he should ponder the distinct possibility that any executive actions taken against our right to keep and bear arms will lead to far more guns being sold than banned.

 

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