Thursday, April 08, 2021

NICS all time record for March, 2021, Gun Sales Down 20% from Record set in 2020

Chart produced by David Scott for this article

The total National Instant background Check System (NICS) checks In March of 2021 were an all time record for the month. The total checks done were reported at 4,691,738. The next highest month was January of 2021, with 4,317,804. The third highest month was 3,937,066 in December of 2020. Those numbers are very large. They reflect the continuing expansion of use of the NICS system for purposes other than firearm sales. Most of the increase is in carry permit and carry permit rechecks.

There were about 2.6 million permit and permit rechecks, about .66 million permit checks and 1.94 permit rechecks. Over 1.35 million of the permit rechecks were from Illinois, which appears to be rechecking permits nearly every day. 

Very close to two million guns were sold as estimated by the records in the NICS system, in March 2021.  Most of those were pistols, over 1.1 million, with about .67 million rifles, the remainder being classified as other and multiple sales. It is the second highest March on record for firearm sales.

A year ago, in March of 2020, an estimated 2.37 million firearms were sold in the NICS system.

The ATF certifies 25 states to substitute various permits for NICS checks, because the permit required a NICS check already. Roughly 7 million people have permits which can be substituted for a NICS check. Firearm sales conducted with one of those permits are not included in the NICS firearm sales numbers. 

The number of privately held firearms in the United States, with the increase of 2 million more last month, is about 470 million. The estimate is made using the method pioneered by Newton and Zimring, and extended by Gary Kleck in “Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America”. 

While demand for guns and ammunition remain at historically high levels, the recorded sales of  guns has dropped a slight amount compared to last year. This may be due to some demand being satisfied. Firearms are durable goods which, with a little care, can remain effective and operational for hundreds of years.

Ammunition, if stored under reasonable conditions, appears to remain effective for more than a hundred years.  Ammunition is an expendible commodity. It may be the exceptional demand for ammunition, which has emptied store shelves, is dampening the demand for firearms. 

In spite of increases in productive capacity, demand has far outstripped the supply of ammunition.

As Mahbub  Ali  noted in chapter 10 of Kipling's iconic novel "Kim", "of what use is a gun unfed?" .

Both political unrest and increasing crime in urban centers are driving the demand for firearms and ammunition. 

The more media coverage and promotion of restrictions on the ownership of firearms, the more the demand rises. The desire for personal arms is on both sides of the political divide.

Firearm and ammuntion manufacturers are producing product at maximum capacity. 

The demand is fierce. Reloading supplies and equipment are sold as fast as they are being produced. 

Even the recharging of used primers is being explored and refined. 

Firearms are a 500 - 600 year old technology.  It cannot practically be unlearned. 

In countries with 150 years of strong restrictions on gun ownership, the demand is met by black market gun and ammunition production.

Only in the United States is the natural demand allowed to be met by legal production and distribution channels. 

©2021 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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