Record High Number Of Gun Sales Blocked By Failed NICS Checks

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

There have been a lot of headlines over the record number of gun sales throughout the last year or so. People are buying firearms at a prodigious rate, to say the least, and there’s no real indication that particular trend is remotely slowing down.

However, it seems there were other records being broken. In particular, the number of failed NICS checks.

Background checks blocked nearly twice as many gun sales in 2020 as in the year before, FBI numbers provided to The Associated Press show. About 42% of those denials were because the would-be buyers had felony convictions on their records.

The number of people stopped from buying guns through the U.S. background check system hit an all-time high of more than 300,000 last year amid a surge of firearm sales, according to new records obtained by the group Everytown for Gun Safety.

Denial data is released by the FBI, but the information collected by Everytown breaks it down by year and includes data from states such as California and Florida, which conduct their own background checks.

The increase in blocked gun sales largely tracks with the record-setting surge in sales that took hold along with the coronavirus pandemic and has continued into this year, through historic demonstrations against police brutality, deep political divisions and an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

I love them mentioning the Capitol. It should be noted, though, that the only person shot was one of the so-called insurrectionists, but why would the media let facts get in the way of a narrative?

Anyway, as for the number of NICS checks denied. Let’s be honest, 300,000 is a lot. That’s an average of 500 failed checks per month in each state. That really is a lot.

However, let’s also remember that there were almost 40 million NICS checks conducted in 2020. That was almost a third more than in 2019, which wasn’t a bad year for NICS checks by any stretch of the imagination. Now, many of those weren’t for firearm purchases, but a lot of them were.

With people concerned about COVID-19, economic uncertainty, riots everywhere you looked, and a contentious election, it’s not surprising that even some convicted felons tried to purchase guns from lawful gun dealers. Especially when you consider that some aren’t even thinking about how it’s illegal for them to buy a gun. Yet when you look at the total number of checks conducted, you can see that the number of attempted gun sales by felons is a drop in the bucket compared to the total number.

Further, what we don’t see is how many of these are false positives.

The NICS check is run by humans. That means there’s always a chance for error, and errors do happen within NICS. While it’s difficult to tell exactly how many false positives happen each year, the number could be sky-high.

So while 300,000 does seem like an awful lot, what you need to keep in mind is some perspective. Compared to the total number of gun sales, it’s potentially no more as a percentage of attempted gun sales than it was prior to COVID-19.

Why, then, was this news?

The answer is simple. You’re not afraid enough. You’re not terrified enough to demand the government crackdown on guns. And because you’re not, they have to frame everything in such a way that you become terrified.

Dec 04, 2021 11:30 AM ET