Typically, the summer months are the slow time of year for gun sales, but the July NICS figures released on Monday confirm that firearm retailers are still far busier than normal. On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Mark Oliva joins me to discuss the latest facts and figures, as well as how the industry is responding to the sustained increase in demand.
There were almost 1.3 million background checks conducted for the sale of a gun in July, according to the NSSF, which is actually a little higher than June’s figure of 1,279,300. According to Oliva, last month was second-highest July for adjusted NICS figures, second only to last year’s staggering 1.8 million gun sales. As Oliva says, the number show that there is steady and strong appetite for continued firearm sales across the country. In fact, Oliva believes that the Great Gun Run of 2020-2021 has left inventory so depleted that it could actually be having a negative impact on gun sales; that if there were more guns in stores the number of NICS checks last month could have been even higher.
As for what’s fueling the continued high demand, Oliva says there are a number of factors at play. Violent crime is leading many Americans to decide to embrace their Second Amendment right of armed self-defense for the first time in their lives, but the Biden administration’s efforts to inflict new gun control laws on the American people and the firearms industry are also playing a role in the sustained surge in gun sales.
Oliva correctly notes that gun sales tend to rise when gun control is a hot topic in Washington, D.C., and while Congress appears gridlocked on new restrictions, Joe Biden himself is using his executive branch authority to try to enact a number of anti-gun policies without the involvement of the legislative branch. There’s the proposed ban on AR-style pistols equipped with stabilizing braces and the proposal to redefine frames and receivers under the Gun Control Act, which would impose new criminal restrictions on the ability of law-abiding Americans to build their own guns for personal use. There’s also the nomination of gun control activist and paid lobbyist David Chipman as permanent director of the BATFE.
It’s clear that there’s massive opposition to Chipman’s nomination among gun owners and Second Amendment activists and Oliva says it stands to reason that some folks may be purchasing firearms now because they’re afraid of the consequences for lawful gun owners and the firearms industry if Chipman’s confirmed. Even if that nomination goes down in flames, however, don’t expect gun sales to plunge dramatically. There are simply too many other factors at play driving current sales, and as Oliva points out, the industry’s “new normal” when gun sales do find their equilibrium are likely still going to be higher than what we saw before the Great Gun Run of 2020-2021 began last March. That was the case during the last spike in sales back in 2015-2016, and with millions of new gun owners added to the fold over the past 18-months, it stands to reason we’ll see the same thing this time around.
As for ammo sales, Oliva says it’s getting a little easier to find common calibers in stock, but ammo manufacturers themselves are still running all out in an effort to keep up with demand, and many companies are still back ordered 18-24 months out. The good news is that the supply chain is strong, and companies aren’t running into too many issues finding the materials needed to make ammunition, though I’m a little concerned about what a strike at the world’s biggest copper mine might mean for manufacturers in the months ahead. Still, the bigger issue at the moment is the overwhelming demand, and based on the gun purchasing trends, that’s likely going to remain the case for the foreseeable future.