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NSSF: March Gun Sales Up 300,000 From February, Still Trending Up Long Term

While the NSSF’s adjusted March NICS background check numbers indicate fewer guns sold in 2022 than the same month in 2020 or 2021, look at the 2022 total versus prior years. March 2022 sales were substantially higher than the pre-Covid/George Floyd surge monthly totals by a significant margin.

The NSSF’s Mark Oliva tells TTAG that . . .

Anecdotal reports of reports of increased interest in firearm purchases following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine proved to be true as we saw background check figures for firearm sales increase by more than 300,000 from February’s adjusted figure of 1,352,105 to March’s 1,669,578. That continues the streak of more than 1 million background checks for the sale of a firearm for 32 months. These figures show month-after-month that Americans, by the millions, don’t just speak about the value of their Second Amendment rights. They act on it.  

Here’s the NSSF’s press release . . .

The March 2022 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 1,669,578 is a decrease of 18.3 percent compared to the March 2021 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure of 2,044,136For comparison, the unadjusted March 2022 FBI NICS figure 3,014,465 reflects a 35.1 percent decrease from the unadjusted FBI NICS figure of 4,645,609 in March 2021.

The March 2022 figures are the third strongest for the month on record, surpassed by March 2021 and March 2020.

The first quarter 2022 NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 4,212,539 reflects a decrease of 23.2 percent compared to the 5,483,342 figure for first quarter 2021, which remains the highest first-quarter on record.

March 2022 NICS background checks by state

Please note: Twenty-five states currently have at least one qualified alternative permit, which under the Brady Act allows the permit-holder, who has undergone a background check to obtain the permit, to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer without a separate additional background check for that transfer. The number of NICS checks in these states does not include these legal transfers based on qualifying permits and NSSF does not adjust for these transfers.

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. In addition to other purposes, NICS is used to check transactions for sales or transfers of new or used firearms.

It should be noted that these statistics represent the number of firearm background checks initiated through the NICS. They do not represent the number of firearms sold or sales dollars. Based on varying state laws, local market conditions and purchase scenarios, a one-to-one correlation cannot be made between a firearm background check and a firearm sale. 

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