The FBI NICS background check system recorded 2.6 million checks in February, the 3rd highest number of background checks on record.

February was the third-biggest month on record for gun background checks, according to data released Wednesday by the FBI.

Background checks, which the FBI conducts every time someone tries to buy a gun from a federally licensed dealer, rose to 2.6 million in February, according to the bureau.

February’s total falls short of the record set in December, 2015, when 3.3 million background checks were recorded.

The second biggest month was in December, 2012, the month of the Sandy Hook school massacre that killed 26, when the FBI logged 2.8 million checks.

Not all gun sales result in NICS checks, and not all checks are for just one firearm. A single NICS check can result in the purchase of multiple firearms.

In some states, concealed carry permits are accepted in lieu of a NICS check because the concealed carry permitting process requires a more intensive background investigation, and so firearms purchased by concealed carriers are not recorded. Likewise, private gun sales between citizens are not recorded in most states.

It is not only possible, but probably, that the total number of gun sales in February exceeded three million.

According to the Department of Defense, there are 2,083,100 military service personnel, including active duty, Guard, and Reserve units. According the FBI’s most recent (2014) data, there are 627,949 sworn law enforcement officers, for a total of just over 2.7 million military and sworn police personnel in the United States today.

While there is, by design, no mechanism to record the number of gun owners in the United States, most estimates put the number of gun owners in the range of 100-110 million gun owners.