Monday, March 06, 2023

NICS numbers for February 2023, Fourth Highest for Gun Sales, Background Checks

Lines are from 2022. Bars are for 2023.

In February of 2023, the number of gun sales and total National Instant background Check System (NICS) checks continue to be very close to the numbers from February of last year, 2022.  The number of gun sales from 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 only vary by 8 percent from lowest (1.24 million in 2020) to highest (1.35 million in 2021). It appears the United States has reached a semi-stable level of gun sales close to what was an unprecedented record of sales in 2016. The number of gun sales for February of 2023 is 1.30 million.

Background checks, by themselves, show a misleading picture, because of extremely high numbers of background checks done for other purposes, especially for gun permits and gun permit rechecks. Illinois and Kentucky do astounding levels of gun permit and gun permit rechecks. Both states check hundreds of thousands of the same people every month, without any gun sales being done. This created very high NICS total checks in February of 2020 and 2021.  In February of 2021, the permit and permit rechecks were 60% of total national NICS checks.

Then Illinois changed their policy, by a revamp of the Illinois Firearms Owner IDentification (FOID). This dropped the NICS checks for Illinois by a significant amount. Permit and permit rechecks in February of 2023 were only 46% of the total background checks in the NICS system. In February of 2021, Illinois had over 846 thousand checks done for permits and permit rechecks, about 25% of total checks done for the United States for the month.  In February of 2023, Illinois had over 372 thousand checks done for permits and permit rechecks, about 15% of total background checks for the United States for the month, a drop of about 474 thousand background checks in February, mostly from the change in Illinois state law and policy.

The change in the number of background checks had almost no relevance to the change in the number of gun sales.

The United States, according to surveys done by the industry group, National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has large numbers of people choosing to be first time gun purchasers. (Full disclosure: the author is a media member of NSSF.) The number of gun owners in the United States is growing. After having purchased a firearm, many gun owners find they want more than one.

There are many specialized purposes for guns.  New gun owners often find they need several different guns to do different things, just as most people have several different kinds of shoes and boots for different purposes. Running shoes work better for running. Hip boots work better for wading. Shotguns work better for shooting birds. Pistols are easier to carry everyday. Rifles are better for longer ranges. There are numerous sub-categories.

Most new gun owners start with just one gun. Once they break through the mythology of "evil" guns, many find they want more than one gun. Guns are at historically low prices for new guns. Breakthoughs in manufacturing technology, the relative open nature of the United States firearms markets to foreign manufacturers, and the removal of many infringements on the right to carry arms in the United States, all work to increase gun sales.

A pair of polls by different groups now show more people are opposed to President Joe Biden's proposed ban on semi-auto firearms than are for it.

As government's willingness to provide for domestic tranquility drops in Progressive controlled cities, the ownership of arms becomes more attractive.

©2023 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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