Gun sales declined sharply last month compared to June of 2020, but a simple year-to-year comparison doesn’t really tell the full story. After all, last June was one of the busiest months on record for firearms retailers, with the National Shooting Sports estimating that 2,177,586 guns were sold during what’s usually one of the slowest months of the year.
Since then we’ve seen continued strong sales, but the NSSF-adjusted figures for last month show that we may be finding out what the “new normal” looks like for the industry.
The NSSF’s Mark Oliva reports:
June’s NSSF Adjusted NICS background check figures for the sale of a firearm were the second highest on record and continue to show that firearm purchases are continuing at an elevated level when viewed over the last five years. This June, there were 1,279,300 background checks for the sale of a gun. Aside from the enormous figure of June 2020, when 2.17 million background checks were conducted for the sale of a firearm, this is still exceeding previous benchmarks. Firearm sales typically slow during summer months, with the exception of last year’s record firearm purchases. These strong figures show that there is sustained interest in lawful possession of firearms.
Last months’ sales were higher than June of 2019 (924,054), 2018 (892,479), and 2017 (1,016,213). It’s no surprise that the figures are far lower than June of last year, given that we didn’t have mass rioting and destruction in dozens of cities around the country last month.
Still, as Oliva says, the adjusted June NICS figures do show “sustained interest” on the part of the American people to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
It cannot be discounted that the continued elevated level of increased firearm purchases is driven, in part, by the gun control overtures by the Biden administration. As we head into Independence Day, Americans are exercising their right to keep and bear arms in record numbers even as the Biden administration is throwing up roadblocks to keep that from happening. These factors continue to drive the elevated levels of gun sales: the nomination of David Chipman, a gun control lobbyist to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the proposed rules to reclassify firearm receivers as well as pistols equipped with stabilizing arm braces under the National Firearms Act, and repeated calls to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). The Biden administration is determined to use every lever within reach to stifle and disrupt the free exercise of Second Amendment rights which begin with the ability of citizens who obey the law to freely approach the gun counter.
Americans aren’t buying it. Instead, they continue to buy guns.
We do, though there are signs that the Great Gun Run of 2020/2021 is slowing down and finding new equilibrium. I’ve seen anecdotal reports of increased availability for some calibers of ammunition, and one gun store in the exurbs outside of Richmond, Virginia was even advertising “lots of ammo in stock” on their signboard this past weekend.
Sales are still higher than the historical trends, however, so while the “slowdown” (if you can call the second-highest number of June gun sales on record a slowdown), may be underway, I think it’s still going to be some time before we figure out what the new normal is going to look like, exactly. We may also very well see another spike in gun sales if David Chipman is confirmed as head of the ATF, or if the Biden administration moves forward with implementing their proposed rules on firearm receivers and stabilizing braces. Gun sales increase when people get worried, whether about their personal safety or their constitutionally-protected rights. And unfortunately, the Biden administration has given plenty for all of us to worry about.