Nothing drives sales of firearms quite like the threat of anti-gun legislation getting signed into law; a paradox that gun control activists largely choose to ignore, especially when the law in question ends up being halted by the courts. I mean, its downright embarrassing (or at least it should be) for groups like Lift Every Voice Oregon to know that so far, the biggest impact of Measure 114 can be found in the long lines and crowded show rooms of gun stores around the state, even while the anti-gun measure itself remains on hold thanks to a Harney County judge’s decision to grant an injunction against enforcement.
Similarly, the rush to ban the sale of “assault weapons” and “large capacity” magazines in Illinois in late December and early January led to a run on guns, with Maxon’s Shooter’s Supply owner Dan Eldridge telling Bearing Arms that sales of handguns in early January were about double what they were in January of 2022, while sales of modern sporting rifles had increased by nearly 1000%.
Now we’ve got some hard numbers to back up that anecdotal evidence. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, there were more than 1.2-million NICS checks on gun purchases in January, an increase of 6.5% compared to January of last year. While NICS checks on firearm transfers were around the historical average for most states, both Oregon and Illinois saw substantial increases, and the states’ gun control efforts are the most logical reason for the sales spike.
According to NSSF, there were 33,539 NICS checks on gun transfers in Illinois in 2022. Last month there were 44,225; an increase of almost 32%. That’s pretty impressive, but the numbers from Oregon are simply staggering.
In January 2022 Oregon had 23,939 NICS checks for firearm transfers. In January of 2023, as Measure 114 was being implemented and challenged in court, the number shot up to 48,206; an incredible increase of 101%. Gun sales doubled in Oregon last month compared year-to-year, and the only reason to explain it is the number of Oregonians rushing to buy a firearm ahead of the idiotic permit-to-purchase aspect of the gun control initiative taking effect; something that hasn’t happened both because of the courts and the fact that the state wasn’t ready to implement the half-cocked regime despite assurances to the contrary.
The NICS figure could also undercount the true demand for firearms in Oregon. So many people have been trying to purchase guns in the state over the past few months that the Oregon State Police have reported backlogs in submitting NICS requests, so the 44,225 checks that were reported may not represent those who are currently waiting for their check to be submitted or approved.
What we do know is that demand spiked as soon as it became apparent that Measure 114 had been approved by voters (it ultimately received 50.7% support). There were more than 86,000 checks in November, and another 68,000 or so in December; both far higher than historic averages.
To put it even further into perspective, between January and October of last year, there were 267,725 NICS checks on gun transfers across the state. Over the past three months, since Measure 114’s passage, there’ve been 203,274.
As I said, nothing drives gun sales like gun control, at least in the short term. And with blue states from California to New York going hard after legal gun owners in state legislatures and in defiance of the Supreme Court, we’re likely to see some new state-level spikes when February’s NICS numbers are released in early March.