By Paul Bedard | | September 10, 2019
The leading indicator of gun sales jumped in August, driven in part by Americans seeking self-protection and deep concerns congressional Democrats are going to push through expanded gun control legislation.
The overall number of background checks recorded in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System surged 15.5%, said the National Shooting Sports Foundation. That figure includes background checks done for security, concealed carry permits, and gun sales, and was the highest August number ever recorded.
The industry group said that August FBI background checks adjusted for sales surged 15.2% over August of 2018. The adjusted August number was second only to August 2016 during the heated presidential election.
The new surge came in the wake of heightened pressure for gun control, sales bans on military-styled rifles, and limits on ammo following a spike in mass shootings.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday demanded Senate passage of a House-approved background check expansion. The White House, however, is focused on mental health drivers in shootings.
Analysts said that it might be the start of a 2016-style buying binge. Then, calls by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton for gun control and an assault weapon ban led to the highest yearly sales and background checks ever.
Justin Anderson, the marketing director for Hyatt Guns in Charlotte, North Carolina, one of the nation’s largest sellers, said fears of a liberal gun-grab and a drive for self-protection are pushing sales higher.
“As we’ve seen in the past, the recent publicizing of mass shootings has fueled people’s concerns about their personal safety. We are seeing many first-time gun buyers, and our concealed carry classes are booking up quickly,” said Anderson.
“Political figures talking about gun bans and confiscation is also starting to figure into sales. We’ve seen a slight uptick in the sale of tactical rifles as a result,” he added.
NSSF said that the FBI told it that the overall NICS number for August was 2,341,363. That is 310,702 higher than July, and 268,067 higher than August 2018. The FBI hasn’t posted the number yet on its NICS page.
The NSSF adjusted number was 1,113,535 for August, compared to 966,809 for August 2018. It explained: “The adjusted NICS data were derived by subtracting out NICS purpose code permit checks and permit rechecks used by states for CCW permit application checks as well as checks on active CCW permit databases. NSSF started subtracting permit rechecks in February 2016. Though not a direct correlation to firearms sales, the NSSF-adjusted NICS data provide an additional picture of current market conditions.”
The industry group noted that some states saw huge spikes.
“Alabama’s NSSF-adjusted NICS for August 2019 was 164.6 percent higher than August 2018 which accounts for an additional 24,292 checks over this time last year. Likewise, Minnesota’s NSSF-adjusted NICS for August 2019 was 68.9 percent higher than August 2018 which accounts for an additional 8,936 checks over the same time period,” said the group.