NICS Checks Down In September, Sales Low

We typically use NICS checks as a proxy for how many people buy guns each month. For a while, NICS checks were sky high, which many of us–including me–took to mean that the firearm industry was doing fine.


However, the latest batch of numbers are in, and actual firearm sales hit a seven-year low in September.

Estimated gun sales tumbled by near double digits last month, marking the slowest September since 2011, according to federal data.

Dealers processed nearly 1.9 million applications through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System last month. Estimated gun sales — the sum of transfers in the NICS’s handgun, long gun, multiple and other categories — declined more than 9 percent and totaled just 853,226.

Dealers processed nearly 435,000 applications for handguns and just under 371,000 applications for long guns last month. The latter represents the slowest September ever recorded in nearly two decades of FBI data. Likewise, long gun tallies for July and August sank to 10-year lows, returning to levels not seen since before the election of former President Barack Obama.

Historical patterns for the industry suggest checks and sales will ramp up again as the holiday season nears — typically the busiest time for retailers. Publicly traded gun companies — including Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger and Company — consider fall and winter months the most profitable.


This isn’t great news for gun companies. Many are still struggling as they have over the past couple of years.

But it doesn’t mean the industry as a whole is in trouble. If they’ve managed this long, most should manage for a little longer just fine. As noted, the holidays are coming, which is a big time for any manufacturer. People buy guns like crazy during this coming time of the year. First, people pick up new firearms for hunting season, then buy guns for Christmas.

They’ll be fine. After all, 2011 was during the Obama presidency when he was the world’s greatest gun salesman, so all we need is a little perspective.


It might not be a bad idea for anyone thinking about buying a gun to go ahead and pick one up. We can do an economic stimulus package of our own.

If there is one upside to the supposed blue wave coming, though, it’s that it may create an immediacy in potential gun buyers, much like how the existence of the Obama Administration stimulated gun buying for years, even with a Republican-controlled Congress who was unlikely to try and push through any anti-gun legislation.


The downside, however, is that a blue wave would be a complete and total disaster. Not just for our gun rights, but in general.

Realistically, while this is a down month for the gun industry, it’s not anything for most of us to lose sleep over. A handful of companies might be freaking out, but that’s because there’s more going on than a bad month of sales. If everything else is in good shape, the companies will be just fine in the long run.

In the short term, though, it might be a little unpleasant, but not so much that the average gun owner would notice much of anything.

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