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Despite rumors to the contrary, the firearms community remains healthy and vibrant. Case in point: the FBI’s NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) processed a record number of gun background checks in May 2018.

Record-Setting May

According to the newly released numbers, the FBI conducted 2,002,992 checks through the NICS for the month of May this year. That’s an increase of 60,315 from May 2017, when 1,942,677 checks were processed. It’s also an all-time record for the month overall. In addition, it’s the third month in a row that saw a record number of background checks. In April, there were 2,223,213 checks conducted. March saw a whopping 2,767,699 NICS checks carried out.

Looking more closely at the numbers, the NICS processed 488,120 handgun applications in May, along with 300,466 long gun applications.

The top five states for background checks in May 2018 were Kentucky (395,487), Illinois (233,963), Texas (111,159), California (104,498) and Florida (95,481).

2018 is also on pace to beat out 2017 in background checks overall. Right now, 11,357,627 NICS checks have been processed. At the same time last year, the FBI conducted 10,699,334 NICS checks.

NSSF Interpretation

Before you break out the champagne, be aware that the NSSF has a different interpretation on the numbers. It’s common knowledge that the monthly NICS data released by the FBI includes everything from concealed carry permit applications to permit rechecks and a number of subcategories that fall under pawns, redemptions, rentals, private sales, returns/dispositions, and return to seller/private sale. Therefore, a one-to-one correlation can’t be made between a gun background check and a gun sale. Nevertheless, the numbers are viewed as a barometer of the overall health of the industry and market.

Taking this into account, the NSSF adjusts the numbers by removing NICS purpose code permit checks and permit rechecks used by states like Connecticut, Illinois, and Utah for CCW permit application checks, as well as checks on active CCW permit databases.

Based on that adjustment, the FBI processed 904,834 background checks in May 2018. That’s actually a decrease of 8.5 percent from the 988,473 checks conducted in May 2017. The NSSF-adjusted numbers show that NICS checks increased in March by 10.8 percent, and fell in April by 4.2 percent. The boost in March can be attributed to the anti-gun fervor after Parkland.

All told, the FBI has processed 285,583,802 checks since the NICS was introduced on Nov. 30, 1998.

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