Friday, August 16, 2019

July 2019 NICS Background Checks Highest on Record, Sales Steady

The number of National Instant background Checks (NICS) done by the FBI for July, 2019, is up dramatically. There were 2,030,661 background checks done in July of 2019. That is the second highest July on record, with only July of 2016 being higher. July of 2016 had 2,197,169 NICS checks.

The 2019 number is positive for gun retailers and gun manufacturers, even after we take into account the changing nature of the type and numbers of background checks done through the FBI system.

When the system was started in 1998, over 20 years ago, most of the checks done were for retail gun sales. In 1999, the number of people with carry permits was only 2.7 million, according to the NRA. The NICS system did not track how many checks were done for carry permits.

The number of people obtaining carry permits has soared, as have permit rechecks. There are now close to 18 million people with carry permits. Illinois and Kentucky conduct large numbers of permit checks and rechecks monthly, skewing the system.

As the federal government does not charge for the NICS checks, there is little incentive for states to use the system judiciously. In a bureaucracy, the more the system is used, the better. More use means more personnel, equipment and budget. Everyone in the bureaucracy wins. The taxpayer loses.

To connect the NICS numbers closer to firearm sales, the permit and permit rechecks need to be subtracted. When this is done, the remaining number is 853,963 for July of 2019. This is higher than the 849,837 for 2018, but substantially lower than the 1,220,710 in the record setting year of 2016. The number for 2017, after permit and rechecks were subtracted was 916,586, also higher than for 2019.

Permit and permit rechecks continue to account for more than half of the NICS checks done.

While July 2019 had the second highest number of NICS checks for July on record, it had the third highest number of NICS checks after the permit and permit rechecks were subtracted.

That is a good showing, but it is substantially below the fevered buying that was happening in July of 2016, when most people thought Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in for President.

I expect next month to show higher sales and higher carry permit and recheck numbers. The left has become strident in their push for more infringements on the Second Amendment. That usually pushes sales up substantially. There are excellent deals out there on modern semi-automatic rifles. Excellent quality pistols can be had for very little money in historical terms.

In 1955, a Colt .45 Automatic pistol cost $64.60, or $617 in constant dollars. Today you can buy many different versions of the 1911 style pistol for that price. The minimum wage was $.75, so the number of hours is about the same. But more efficient manufacturing processes mean excellent pistols can be manufactured for much less money. The Smith & Wesson M&P .45 can be had for as low as $320, and the Taurus ST45 runs as low as $300.  Glock .45 models can be had for as little as $502.

In rifles, a S&W  M&P15 Sport has been seen at $520, with free shipping.

I do not expect the deals to last for long. Sale numbers are going to rise again, driven by the media push for infringements on the Second Amendment.

I suspect President Trump will hold firm to protect the Second Amendment, in the end. But the President's style includes making noises that sound promising and conciliatory to the left, without committing to details.

Those words will not be reassuring to Second Amendment supporters and nervous potential firearms buyers. That will work to increase sales.

©2019 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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