May NICS numbers set all-new records.

The NSSF just released its May 2020 adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System figures, and they’re staggering. The May NICS numbers came in at 1,595,790; that represents an increase of 75.2 percent year-over-year.

NSSF-Adjusted May NICS Numbers Break Records

“The sales figures show us that during times of crisis, Americans will choose to take responsibility for their own safety,” said Mark Oliva, Director of Public Affairs, NSSF. “That’s evident at the onset of the coronavirus epidemic and continues now as the nation witnesses protests turn to destructive rioting and violence and murder.”

In May 2019, the NSSF-adjusted NICS number came to 910,910. Unadjusted, the numbers come in at more than 3 million, May 2020, and 2.3 million, May 2019, a 32.1-percent increase. Industry experts recognize the impact of societal forces upon these buying trends.

“When the coronavirus stay-at-home orders were first announced, police were being stretched thin,” Oliva explained. “Their ranks were reduced because of infection and departments were announcing they would have to prioritize the emergencies to which they would respond. At the same time, mayors and governors were turning out prisoners, some of those convicted for violent crimes to reduce the possibility of contagion. Some of those convicts were being rearrested within days and even hours of their release for committing further violent crimes. America took notice and headed to the their local gun store. This is exactly why the Second Amendment exists, so free and law-abiding men and women are able to avail themselves with the use of arms for protection.”

Several Driving Forces

We previously reported record numbers in both March and April. The coronavirus pandemic largely drove those record months. Now civil unrest, political uncertainty and growing violence emerge in the wake of the George Floyd tragedy.

“Civil unrest and political uncertainty are two factors at play,” Oliva said. “Civil unrest really started over Memorial Day weekend. The pace of background checks associated with the sale of a firearm exceeded 100,000 each day since then, but they were also exceeding 100,000 most days in May. We are seeing news reports of lines outside of firearm retailers at some locations exceeding 50 people. I know at local gun stores in my area, sales remain brisk and shelves still have more empty space than they do products. I think some of those who didn’t  feel the need to purchase a firearm during the period when stay-at-home orders are reconsidering. 

“Political uncertainty speaks to a little bit more of the long-term trends,” Oliva continued. “We’ve seen these trends before. Sales ramped up steadily from 2008 through 2016, the years President Barack Obama was in office. He favored stricter gun control and Americans responded by buying more guns to be sure they could own the guns they wanted before they were unable to purchase them. In 2015 and 2016, Hillary Clinton campaigned on a platform of strict gun control, including reinstating the failed 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. Going into that election, all polling showed Clinton with the lead and sales spiked. After President Donald Trump was elected, sales slowed to a pace greater than what they were five years before, but not what they were during the election year.”

Gun Election 2020

Of course, another presidential election looms, this one showcasing a Democratic candidate hellbent on gun control. For many consumers, Biden represents the biggest threat to gun ownership in some time. While on the back burner of late, the pending election adds yet another layer driving gun sales.

“This year, former Vice President Joe Biden has embraced the most antigun platform we’ve seen,” Oliva said. “He’s called the firearm industry ‘the enemy’ from the debate stage. He’s said he wants technologically-impossible DNA enabled ‘smart guns,’ he wants to ban modern sporting rifles, the most popular-selling centerfire rifle in America today (with nearly 18 million in circulation) and said he would appoint Robert Francis ‘Beto’ O’Rourke as his gun control sheriff, the man who said he’d forcibly round up privately-owned firearms by using law enforcement to go door-to-door. People notice this and they are buying for the same reason we witnessed in 2015 and 2016. I expect a similar trend to continue through this year’s election as guns will continue to be a voter issue.”

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